What’s wrong with Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 which is on this November’s Washington State ballot? Plenty. It a complex measure that proposes radical changes in our form of representative government and in our state’s tax policies.
We are in a recession and Tim Eyman is proposing that state and local government should permanently freeze state and local spending at this year’s level. Eyman is in some imaginary world where all that seems to matter is keeping his initiative business going.
Times are tough for many people and businesses and we don’t need to make things worse. Thousands of jobs have been lost in our state and we have cut billions is spending for local services and statewide for things like health care and education.
As the economy starts to improve Eyman says we should not reinvest in public services and restore those we have lost but instead should help property owners pay their property taxes. This is a radical restructuring of priorities for state and local government. Eyman says this is more important than educating our children, providing help for seniors to stay in their homes, repairing roads, keeping parks and libraries open, having adequate police and fire protection, cleaning up Puget Sound and all the rest of the things government has worked on.
You see this is where Tim and I differ. It seems he has never met a government he liked and loathes taxes. I don’t like to pay taxes any more than anyone else but I realize there is no free lunch. I view taxes as a necessity to maintain the livability of our communities and keep our economy going.
The national conservative Tax Foundation says that Washington State ranks 35th (with 1 being the highest) in terms of state and local tax burden. They rank us 25th in terms of property tax burden per capita. We rank 8th in terms of income per capita. We are one of only 7 states without a state income tax. We rank number1 in terms of sales taxes but Eyman I-1033 doesn’t reduce sales taxes. You can check out these figures yourself at http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/sr163.pdf.
I-1033 proposes to end the form of representative government we have and replace it with “budgeting by referendum.” Eyman asks what’s wrong with that. It’s been answered before but he isn’t listening. Budgeting by referendum is what California has been doing for years. It’s why they are in a much worse mess than Washington State.
Budgeting by referendum means holding numerous elections. Elections cost money and impose significant time delays in planning. Based on the low turnout in our recent primary, voters already seem to be fatigued just trying to figure out candidate’s positions, let alone many possible budget issues that I-1033 could add.
As as example, how many people have read the text of I-1033? That’s just one issue with huge budget implications, yet most people will vote for or against it without reading it. I suggest you try reading it and explaining to someone else what it does. Here is a link to the initiative http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i1033.pdf
How many other issues do you think the average voter has time to read and understand? That’s why we have representative government, so we can elect people to devote the necessary time to understand the issues and budget needs and make decisions to benefit the community.
But the other radical change I-1033 impose is a reverse Robin Hood scheme of transferring tax dollars from those less well off to the wealthy. Everyone pays sales taxes yet not everyone benefits from I-1033. You get nothing if you are a renter or a senior citizen or working family if you don’t own property. You will still pay the same sales taxes under I-1033 but you will not see any tax rebate or increased public services under I-1033
Commercial real estate gets 40% of the property tax benefit under I-1033. Large corporate property owners, shopping malls and real estate developers will see the greatest benefit. Large homes and owners of vacations home and second homes get more of a break because the more property you own the more benefit you get under I-1033.
So I-1033 is really a scheme to tax the poor and less well off to help pay property taxes for wealthy land owners. Sales taxes last year represented some 57% of state revenue. But I-1033 does nothing to reduce these taxes and others renters pay.
Colorado tried a similar budget freeze scheme and found it was a loser for the public as public services declined each year. They recently voted to suspend the measure. We don’t need to repeat Colorado’s failed experiment here to know it will be bad for our state. Vote No on I-1033 this November 3, 2009!