Currently viewing the tag: "Initiative 1053"

The following letter to the editor of the Seattle Times was posted on their website yesterday. I wrote the letter in response to their editorial on Sunday entitled, “State lawmakers should listen to voters on I-1185 and the two-thirds tax law.” The Washington State Supreme Court ruled on February 28, 2013 that requiring a supermajority vote of the Legislature to raise revenue or pass any other ordinary legislation was unconstitutional. The Seattle Times choose to editorialize on the issue against the decision of the Washington State Supreme Court. My response:

The Seattle Times in its recent editorial errs in it’s judgment that supermajority votes are somehow in the best interests of our state. Logic says that to require a supermajority vote to pass legislation means that the minority interest would trump the majority interest. Under Initiative 1185, if 17 State Senators out of 49 Senators said no to a revenue bill to fund education, they would prevail over any majority vote by both the state Senate and House.
As the state Supreme Court noted, “ … a supermajority requirement for ordinary legislation would allow special interests to control resulting legislation. While the current Supermajority Requirement applies only to tax increases, if carried to its logical conclusion, the State’s argument could allow all legislation to be conditioned on a supermajority vote. In other words, under the State’s reasoning, a simple majority of the people or the Legislature could require particular bills to receive 90 percent approval rather than just a two-thirds approval, thus essentially ensuring that those types of bills would never pass. Such a result is antithetical to the notion of a functioning government and should be rejected as such.”

The issue here is actually not just a tax issue but but an issue of how our State legislature functions and whether or not minority interests can impose roadblocks to the majority of Legislators doing their jobs. It is absurd that this supermajority requirement has hindered the Legislators from doing their job for the larger part of 20 years. Ever since voters passed I-601 by a small margin of 51% to 49% the problem has persisted, illustrating how by a simple majority vote could give a minority of 1/3 of the legislators in one House of the Legislature veto power over the majority.

As pointed out by the Washington State Supreme Court in their opinion:

“…allowing a supermajority requirement for ordinary legislation alters our system of government. The framers of the United States Constitution expressed as much in the Federalist papers:
If a pertinacious minority can controul the opinion of a majority respecting the best mode of conducting it; the majority in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and  thus the sense of the smaller number will over-rule that of the greater.
THE FEDERALIST NO. 22, at 141 (Alexander Hamilton) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961);
accord THE FEDERALIST No. 58 (James Madison).”

In a 6 to 3 decision this last week the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that that Tim Eyman’s  Initiative 1053′s supermajority provisions for passage of revenue measures by the State Legislature was unconstitutional. In fact it went beyond revenue measures and said any attempt to require supermajority votes not in the Washington State Constitution was unconstitutional.

The decision stated that, Article II, sec. 22 of the Washington State Constitution “prohibits either the people or legislature from passing legislation requiring more than a simple majority for the passage of tax legislation – or any other ordinary legislation”. Despite this language Majority Leader Rodney Tom in the Washington State Senate immediately tried to figure a way to change the Senate rules to require a two thirds vote to raise taxes by the Legislature.

On the same day the Court issued their opinion, the Olympian reported that Tom said:

“We’re going to stand behind the will of the people. They’ve been very clear that they want it to be difficult to raise taxes,” Tom said today.

The rule would require a two-thirds supermajority or a public vote to pass any tax increase.

And passing the rule would take only a simple majority of all senators, unlike a constitutional amendment that is much less likely to pass.

Seems that legal counsel finally convinced Tom that the Washington State Supreme Court ruling also applied in principle to any rule making by the Legislature. By that didn’t stop him from trying to consider it. Here’s what the Supreme Court said about allowing a 1/3 minority of Legislators to overrule a majority:

Article II, sec. 22  “prohibits either the people or legislature from passing legislation requiring more than a simple majority for the passage of tax legislation – or any other ordinary legislation.”…

They also stated  that) “The Supermajority Requirement unconstitutionally amends the constitution by imposing a two-thirds vote requirement for tax legislation.

More importantly, the Supermajority Requirement substantially alters our system of government, thus enabling a tyranny of the minority.”

The telling words here to listen to are not so much that requiring a supermajority vote to raise revenue was unconstitutional but that it allowed a 1/3 minority of legislators in one House of the Legislature to veto any majority vote of the rest of the Legislators. Under this system the minority vote prevails and the minority rules, not the majority.

It is a negation of the idea of one person one vote, saying that on revenue issues, including repealing any tax loopholes, that  a State Legislator opposed to raising revenue  had the equivalent of 2 votes for every one vote that a State legislator had that supported raising revenue. The result was that the No vote of 17 State senators out of 49 Senators could negate the Yes votes of 32 Senators.  The minority position would win out which is what happened in almost all cases in the State Legislature while the 2/3 voting mandate was in place.

One could similarly make an argument that incumbents have an unfair advantage in running for office and need to be term limited. The equivalent to I-1053 in this instance would be if the voters agreed and passed an initiative saying that any incumbent Legislator running needed to get a supermajority vote to win or his opponent would win. Following the logic of I-1053, if the incumbent got 64% of the vote, but did not receive the 2/3 supermajority vote, then his opponent would win, even though he only got 36% of the vote. The goal of limiting re-election of incumbents would be accomplished by this action which lets a minority of voters make the decision as to who gets elected. Most voters seeing the results would cry foul. Fortunately this example is also now void as the Washington State Supreme Court specifically noted that Article II, sec. 22 of the Washington State Constitution “prohibits either the people or legislature from passing legislation requiring more than a simple majority for the passage of tax legislation – or any other ordinary legislation (highlighting mine).

Tim Eyman and his corporate donors for I-1185 which voters passed this last November argued that raising taxes should be harder than passing other legislation and that was why they should prevail. This is a political philosophy that represents the conservative Republican position. Yet running on that position against Democrats they have not been able to elect a majority of Republicans to the House or Senate in recent years. This year two so called Democratic Legislators, Senator Rodney Tom of the 48th LD and Senator Tim Sheldon, joined with 23 Republicans to take over the State Senate.

There is a clear difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue that still persists. Republicans and Rodney Tom in the Senate rapidly passed SJR 8205 – Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes,  out of the Ways and Means Committee to the Rules Committee, 2nd reading. Fortunately for those who agree that allowing a minority position to prevail over the votes of a majority is undemocratic, the State Constitution put amending the State Constitution in a select category of legislation requiring a 2/3 vote by both the Senate and the House and a majority vote of the people in order to pass.

The State Constitution is the framework of state government and as such should be more difficult to amend than passing a general law or raising revenue or repealing tax exemptions which the voters can put on the ballot by referendum or elect new legislators who can change the law.  The absurdity of Eyman’s I-1053 and I-1185 2/3 voting mandate was that it allowed Legislators to pass tax exemptions by a simple majority vote but required a 2/3 vote to repeal them.

Eyman’s measures were strongly supported by corporate business interests like BP Oil, Conoco Phillips, Association of Washington Business, the Beer Institute and others which sought to both avoid any business tax increases or repeal of any of their tax loopholes. It was a Corporate Tax Loophole Protection Act not an act which helped most residents in Washington State because it resulted in the inability of the Legislature to raise new revenue or reform our tax system.

As noted by the broad based Washington coalition called Our Economic Future we have now cut about $10 billion dollars from the State Budget.  State college tuition has doubled in 4 years. It now costs to go to State Parks. State employees and teachers have lost their jobs. Public K-12 education funding has gone down. All kinds of funding to help the needy, handicapped, kids, and unemployed have decreased.  The future of our state’s economy is under attack as businesses and corporations report record profits.  We need a balanced approach to taxation and funding to help the people of Washington State move into a better future.

Contact your State legislators today and urge them to oppose SJR 8205 – Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes.  Go to www.leg.wa.gov and let your Legislator know you oppose a Constitutional Amendment to give a minority of Legislators veto power over the majority.

 

It’s a strange combination but corporate oil and beer profits fuel the signature drive  for Eyman’s current initiative. Oil and water may not mix but it looks like oil and beer profits do. Latest reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show corporate interests dumping in most of the $964,713 reported for Eyman’s I-1185 campaign to re-enact a 2/3 voting requirement by the legislature to raise revenue.

This latest million dollar corporate campaign to restrict the Washington State Legislature’s ability to raise funds is happening despite the recent King County Superior Court decision declaring that the 2/3 vote restriction in Initiative 1053 is unconstitutional. The decision by Superior Court Judge Bruce F Heller was issued on May 31, 2012. While this decision  will likely be reviewed by the Washington State Supreme Court.  Judge Heller’s Memorandum Opinion is pretty clear and simple.

Heller decleared  that The majority provision of Art. II, Section 22 is a clear restriction on the legislature’s power to require more than a majority vote for passage of tax measures. This restriction applies to statures  initiated by the legislature and to statues passed pursuant to voter initiatives,  While initiative measures reflect the reserved power of the people to legislate, the people in their legislative capacity remain subject to mandates of the Constitution,  Gerberding, 134 Wn.2d at 196.  RCW 43.135.024(1) is therefore unconstitutional.”

Despite this clear decision corporate interests persist in trying to prevent the Legislature from voting to directly raise revenue to fund basic state needs or to recoup revenue lost to non performing or under performing tax exemptions that are not benefiting  Washington state or its citizens.

On May 16, the Beer Institute  out of Washington DC dropped in $400,000 dollars to help pay Citizen Solutions, Eyman’s signature gathering firm.  BP Oil out of Chicago, Il added $100,000 as did Conoco Phillips Company out of Washington DC. The Washington Restaurant Association added $25,000.

Meanwhile the Association of Washington Business  acting to shield the true source of their money, paid $185,000 directly to Citizen Solutions. It was reported as an In Kind donation by Eyman. Where did the Association of Washington Business get the money from? Their public disclosure report shows that they received $100,000 from the  American Beverage Association in Washington, DC and another $100,000 from Tesoro Companies in San Antonio, Texas. In addition they got $50,000 from Equilion Enterprises in Houston Texas, and $50,000 from Shell Oil Company in Sacramento, California.

In a press report where Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Washington accused the Assocation of Washington Business of collecting money from Tesoro to support Inslee’s Republican opponent Rob McKenna, the AWB  denied the accusation and said the money was passed on to Citizen Solutions to pay for collecting signatures on I-1185.

Big corporate interests are again looking out for their bottom line. Oil companies love it that Eyman is using his anti tax mantra to promote a measure that helps protect their profits.  Eyman is selling his snake oil potion to the citizen taxpayers of Washington State as something that benefits them. Unfortunately what it does is lock in a regressive tax system that soaks low income taxpayers and lets corporate profiteers off the hook for new taxes and prevents the legislature from repealing special interest tax breaks oil companies and others  enjoy.

Oil companies are opposing a State Legislative proposed  increase in the toxic substances tax that would have been used to clean up stormwater runoff contaminated by oil byproducts.  Here in Washington state oil companies are soaking up profits like mad as our gasoline prices are the highest in the nation.  We pay higher gas prices so they can pay Eyman to put in place a measure that would stop the legislature from charging them to help clean up an environmental problem caused by toxic oil in stormwater runoff entering our strearms, rivers and Puget Sound. Gas prices right now are the highest in the lower 48 states.

Three of the companies contributing to Eyman’s campaign are Shell oil companies.  Besides Shell itself, Tesoro Industries and Equilon Enterprises are affiliated with Shell. Equilion is doing business in Washington State as Shell Oil Products and has a crude oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington. Tesoro Industries also has a refinery in Anacortes and markets under the Shell name among others. In 2010 there was an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery at Anacortes, Washington that killed 5 workers.

Can Shell afford to help Tim Eyman? I suppose their  $8.7 billion dollar profit in the first quarter of 2012 left them with some spare change. BP Oil reported a profit of $5.9 billion and Conoco Phillips a profit of $2.9 billion.  To them a few hundred million to prevent the Washington State Legislature from having them help pay for cleaning up oil contaminated stormwater runoff is just another small investment in protecting their profits.

The taxpayers of Washington State, who are paying the highest gas prices in the United States, are the suckers unfortunately who suffer from both oil contaminated water and a regressive tax system that doesn’t tax the wealthy the same as lower income brackets. This is because Eyman’s 2/3 vote requirement for raising revenue or repealing corporate tax exemptions forces the legislature to cut public services like education and health care for seniors and children rather than do tax reform and make the system fairer and more equitable.

 Washington voters and taxpayers  need to wake up to the reality that letting a minority of 1/3 of the Legislators in one House dictate tax policy benefits the wealthy and Big Corporations a lot more than moderate and low income working families. Why else are the Oil and Beverage Companies funding I-1185?  It’s their corporate profits that’s driving their actions, not their civic altruism.

Don’t sign I-1185 or vote for it if it makes the ballot. 

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Big Oil loves Tim Eyman.  They love him so much they’re have given him $200,000 this year to protect their corporate profits and tax loopholes from the Washington State Legislature. They love it that he helped them two years ago prevent the Legislature from asking them to help clean up oil polluted stormwater in our state. They love it that voters said the Legislature needed a 2/3 vote to tax corporations and end profitable tax loopholes they have.

Eyman is busy carrying their water as he scurries to pay his minions to get signatures on I-1185 his “son” of 1053. I-1053 was passed by voters in 2010 and said the Legislature needed to get a 2/3 vote in both houses to raise new revenue or close any tax loopholes. For 2 years after an initiative passes it takes a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to amend an initiative. After that it takes a simple majority.

So Eyman is trying to put I-1185 before the voters to reset the clock for another 2 years.

The 2/3 vote requirement initially was in I-601 and then in I-960.  Both these measures barely passed 51% to 49%. Two years ago in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and with high unemployment the measure passed with a 64% vote after opponents waited until the last few weeks to try to oppose it but it was too late.

Now voters can see the consequences of a no new taxes proposal which is what I-1185 is and what I-1053 is.  Austerity so to speak is another w0rd for protecting corporate profits while cutting services to the elderly, the sick and young kids.  Corporate interests like BP and Conoco Phillips continue to rack up huge profits and contribute to the increased concentration  of wealth in the hands of the few.

On April 4, 2012 BP Oil out of Chicago gave Eyman $100,000. Eyman immediately passed it on to his buddy Roy Ruffino at Citizen Solutions out of Olympia.  Citizen Solutions is paying signature gatherers $1.00 per signature and pocketing a fee for itself of course.

BP last year reported a net profit of $23.9 billion. $ 100,000 is peanuts to BP.

On April 20, 2012 Conoco Phillips added another $100,000,  Small peanuts to them also that they  can write off as a business expense. After expenses Conoco Phillips reported a 1st quarter Jan – March 2012 profit of $2.94 billion.

Isn’t it great that if you are a big corporation and you can buy yourself a place on the ballot and you can have friends like Tim Eyman to help you fool the public into supporting your corporate profits at the expense of diminishing public services that benefit the public.

Don’t sign I-1185!  Don’t support Big Oil’s power grab of the Washington State Legislature. Big Oil is not concerned about the well being of Washington State or its citizens. They are only concerned about increasing the bottom line of their business and their shareholders.

 

 

 

Tim Eyman is out getting signatures on his latest initiative for gridlock in Washington State.  It is nothing new but a recycling of a failed experiment – namely that blocking the Legislature’s ability to raise revenue or repeal non-performing tax exemptions is good for Washington State. That policy has been a dismal failure.

Initiative 1185 is an attempt to get voters to re-pass Initiative 1053 which was passed by voters in 2010. Initiative 1053 required Legislators to get a 2/3 vote in the House and the Senate  for any measure that raised revenue to fund state services.

Not once in 16 years has the Legislature been able to raise revenue under the 2/3 voting requirement because only a 1/3 minority of Legislators in either House can block a revenue increase. This statement was given recently in a Superior Court case attempting to declare I-1053 and its 2/3 vote requirement as unconstitutional.

The reason Eyman is recycling his 2/3 vote requirement is so that the Legislature can not amend I-1053 without a 2/3 majority.  The Washington State Constitution allows the legislature to amend initiatives by a simple majority after 2 years but requires a 2/3 vote for the first two years after passage. Re-passing I-1053 as I-1185 would reset the 2/3 requirement for another 2 years.

I-1053 was supported by Big Oil, Wall Street Banks and other corporate interests that didn’t want the state to repeal special interest tax exemptions and loopholes or require them to pay more for the benefits of doing business in Washington State.

Eyman portrayed I-1053  as a measure to protect the average citizen taxpayer from big government but the reality is that 1053 is really a Corporate Tax Loophole Protection Act.  Tax Loopholes exempt many corporations from paying taxes at the same rate as others.  In essence it shifts the tax responsibility to other tax payers like working families.

I-1185, like I-1053, would require a 2/3 vote to repeal tax loopholes even if they are providing no benefit to the state.  Tax exemptions only require a simple majority to pass in the first place. Meanwhile cuts to state services like education for our children and health care for seniors have been cut.  Only a simple majority was needed to cut that funding.

I-1185 would continue tax protection for corporations while forcing more cuts in state services. As service costs increase due to inflation and revenue doesn’t increase due to a lagging economy more cuts will be necessary. Don’t sign Initiative 1185. It time to bring some sanity back to how we fund state services.

 

Changes are needed in the ability of the Washington State Legislature to fund basic services like education and healthcare. The current state budget problems are made more difficult by the lack of flexibility of the Legislature to make decisions by a majority vote as directed by the Washington State Constitution and by a tax expenditure/exemption process that is shielded from legislative oversight by virtue of not being part of the normal budget process.

Many people are frustrated by the current stalemate in the legislative process and want more choices than just throwing up their hands and suffering more cuts in state services and more costs to working families. More options are needed for the voters than just saying we have no real choices.

Accordingly draft legislation has been written that could be a bill in the Legislature with a referendum clause for the voters or that could be a citizens  initiative for the Fall ballot if the Legislature doesn’t act..  The legislation is called  the Washington State Taxpayers Fiscal Reform Act.  You can see a draft copy for comment located here: http://www.majorityrules.org/?attachment_id=814

We are now circulating this draft for public comment and revision. I would appreciate your review of this draft  and any suggested revisions you might have.
The Taxpayers Fiscal Reform Act would:
1.  Allow the Legislature to repeal tax exemptions by a majority vote by repealing the current unconstitutional 2/3 voting requirement.
2. Add tax expenditures into the biennial  budget process.
3.  Require the Legislature to rank all spending, including tax expenditures as high, medium or low priority in meeting state needs.
4.  Require that the Legislature must act to reaffirm all tax expenditures after they have been audited by the state or they will sunset.
5. Limit any authorization or reauthorization of a tax expenditure to 10 years.
Please return all comments on the draft to Steve Zemke at the e-mail address below.
Thanks,
Steve Zemke – Chair
King County Democrats

The 2/3 vote requirement rule for the Washington State Legislature to act on revenue measures  imposed by Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 needs to be overturned. Everyone acts as if it is law, including most of the Washington State Legislators, but it is unconstitutional. The issue is before the Washington Court system and needs to be resolved.

I-1053 has created a crisis for our state. It  has limited the options of our state government to address our current  financial crisis. The result is that the state is being forced to continue to cut basic services like education and health care. It is driving the crisis into a downward spiral.

The state has already cut it’s budget by $10 billion and is facing another $2 billion in cuts just to balance its current budget.

The I-1053 campaign is just another example of misguided anti-government legislation that unfortunately has an opposite effect from what many voters thought they were voting on. They bought the rhetoric thinking it was good for the average citizen in this state.

However it was  Big Business and Corporate interests in this state that saw the measure for what it was - another opening to consolidate their power over the State Legislature. Corporations like the Bank of America and BP saw that this so called rule gave them virtual immunity from the threat of seeing their special interest tax exemptions being repealed once Eyman’s definition of a tax increase included repeal of tax exemptions. Voters missed this.

The Legislature over the years has passed special interest tax exemptions with a simple majority vote of 50%. These tax exemptions now exceed revenue from collected taxes. These tax exemptions are really expenditures of state money that if not in place could be used for other purposes like educating our youth and creating jobs. I-1053 has essentially grandfathered existing tax exemptions in permanently. That is because a 2/3 vote in both houses is needed to repeal them. This is almost impossible to do, considering that special interests only need to secure the votes of 17 Legislators out of 147 to stop a revenue measure being passed.

I-1053 also makes it almost impossible to raise any taxes on business. So the State is left with essentially one option to pay its bills and balance the budget – cutting programs.  Unfortunately for Washington residents, cutting means ending services and jobs  that benefit the majority of Washington voters, especially the middle class and working families.

It’s time to take back the Legislature from the special interests and reject the 2/3 voting requirement. There is a basic constitutional issue here.  What has happened is that on revenue issues, I-1053 is saying that if Legislators are for revenue increases or repealing tax exemptions, their vote only counts as half a vote, rather than a full vote, in trying to pass measures. Nothing in the Constitution says that this is the case or that this is allowed.

I-1053 was an initiative, not a constitutional amendment.  You can not change the constitution with an initiative.  The Washington State Constitution says that bills shall be passed by majority votes, not by 2/3 votes. I-1053 is unconstitutional and the courts need to reject it so the state can address it’s financial problems without special interests calling the shots.

The people also need to reject any further measures by Eyman trying to reaffirm I-1053. He will be running another one in 2012.  The reason for this is that for the first two years  after an initiative is passed, it takes a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to amend it. After that it is a majority vote.   By passing another 1053 type initiative, it would extend for two more years the inability of the Legislature to amend the 2/3 vote requirement. Voters need to understand that I-1053 style initiatives requiring a 2/3 vote to pass revenue measures benefits special interests a lot more than the average voter.

It’s time to reject the 2/3 vote requirement and take back the Legislature from the special interests.

With the passage of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 last year requiring 2/3 votes of the Legislature to raise revenue, Wall Street interests and their friends were the big winners. Citizens in Washington State were the losers.

The reality is that with the citizen’s help, corporations guaranteed that their special interest loopholes and tax exemptions in Washington State would be continued on and on, without any accountability.  Tax exemptions originally passed with only a majority vote now require a 2/3 vote by both houses of the Legislature to rescind or end. And this is almost impossible to do.

Wall Street and Big Business interests funding the campaign to protect their special interest tax exemptions included JP MORGAN CHASE, BP CORPORATION, BANK OF AMERICA, WELLS FARGO, CONOCO PHILLIPS, US BANK, TESORO COMPANIES INC, AND CHEVERON to name a few.

Why do you think they wanted voters to approve I-1053? It’s an easy answer.

Corporations basically were able to grandfather in their tax exemptions by passage of Initiative 1053. They were able to do this under the camouflage of limiting taxes on average citizens.  The net result is that corporations protected themselves from not just losing their special interest exemptions but it also made it impossible for the Legislature to consider any other revenue coming from these corporations regardless of how much profit they make.

Tax exemptions are expenditures of state money that would otherwise be available to fund basic services like education, health care, transportation or environmental protection. Tax exemptions need to be included in the state budget just the same as other state expenditures. And they need to have a sunset provision so that unless they are voted on to be renewed, they will automatically expire. Sunset provisions could vary from 4 to 8 years.

Tax exemptions should not be a permanent entitlement of special interests and corporations. Their continuation needed to be evaluated and voted on periodically. Their value to the state’s economy should be prioritized under the guidelines of a priorities of government evaluation.. Their continuation should be ranked as high, medium or low priority, the same as other expenditures in the state budget. When it comes time to create a state budget they should be considered the same as any other expenditure, not exempt as they now are.

This evaluation of tax expenditures is a function that the State Auditor could perform the same as is done with other programs. Tax exemptions that no longer perform a valid function for the State and its citizens should be eliminated.

It’s time now for citizens to take back their Legislature from the corporations.  Giving  corporations special rules to prevent their tax exemptions from being repealed by requiring higher voting requirements is contrary to the Washington State Constitution and subverts the citizen’s legislature.. Now is the time to repeal the special treatment the Wall Street interests – the Banks and other Big Corporations - gave themselves under I-1053 and return the Legislature to the people..

We need to go back to the voting system set up by the people for the Legislature by the Washington State Constitution. Passing legislation, including revenue and the state budget should be by a simple majority vote as set in the State Constitution. Requiring a higher number of votes on specific legislation winds up giving a smaller and smaller block of Legislators veto power. That gives Wall Street and Big Businesses and Big Oil power they don’t deserve and diminishes the power of the people to control their government.

It’s time to end Wall Street’s Special Protection.and return the Legislature to the citizens of this state. It’s time to repeal I-1053 and stop the unfair shift of taxation from the wealthy and special interests to the middle class.

Conservative anti-tax proponents pushing initiatives like I-1053 and I-1107 on this year’s Washington State ballot are pushing lies about our ever-expanding state government.  The fact is that the percentage of our state’s resources (as measured by collective personal income) devoted to public services like education and health care for seniors and children continues to decline.

The following is taken from a post by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center and deserves wide distribution to help educate the public:

Despite the claims being made by Initiative 1107 and Initiative 1053’s proponents, Washington actually devotes a smaller share of its resources to public services like education and health care than a decade ago. And given the magnitude of the recession, the state will likely continue to devote a smaller share of its economy to public services than before.

Typically, economists measure changes in government spending over time by analyzing how much of a state’s total personal income – or the sum of its collective resources – goes for public services. But as the graph below shows:

•The share of our resources that are spent on education, health care, public safety, and other important services has actually dropped since the late-1990s;

•As of June 2010, state spending in the current 2009-11 biennium is projected to fall to about 5.4 percent of total personal income in Washington – lower than the 6 percent share that went for public priorities the late-1990s.

This percentage will decline even further due to the recently-announced, 6.3 percent across-the-board budget cuts.

In other words, a smaller share of our collective resources is going to public priorities like educating our kids or providing health care than before.

And it is declining.

The post adds a link to get more detailed information. See the full report by Andy Nichols entitled Budget Claims Lack Context, Belie Deep and Painful Cuts. 

I urge Washington Voters to vote No on Tim Eyman and Oil Industry giant BP’s Initiative 1053 – which would give 17 out of 147 Washington State Legislators veto power over our state budget. Vote No on I-1107 which would repeal a short term tax on bottled water and soda. The American Beverage Industry is bankrolling this effort.
For more information on the initiatives on the November ballot go to http://www.protectwashington.org/ and http://www.stopgreed.org/.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is opposing Tim Eyman and British Petroleum’s Initiative 1053 and the American Beverage Industry’s Initiative 1107. Both measures are based on greed, namely that large corporations are unwilling to help Washington citizens fund basic public services but are instead intent on increasing corporate profit. And they hope that the public is gullible enough to believe it is about reducing taxes for the average taxpayer. It’s not.

As AARP notes:

Out-of-state special interests are at it again. This November, Washington voters will be asked to vote on two initiatives that if passed, would lead to deep cuts to important services like health and long-term care for low income seniors and a quality education for our children and grandchildren.

Initiative 1107, funded by the American Beverage Association, and Initiative 1053, funded largely by out-of-state businesses like BP and big Wall Street banks, will threaten our state budget, cripple state government, and make it harder than ever to recover from the recession.

Times are tough enough already. In response to one of the worst economies in decades, we’ve already cut more than $4.4 billion from the state budget. As a result, 2,600 education jobs were eliminated, 44,000 people lost Basic Health Plan coverage, class sizes are soaring and college tuition has skyrocketed by nearly 30 percent.

Initiatives 1107 and 1053 would only make things worse. Further cuts will seriously harm the things that we value – more cuts in health care means more expensive emergency room use, and more cuts in education hurts our kids for generations to come.

Initiative 1053 is an attempt by large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. They want to bank their profits and have the rest of us taxpayers pay for their cost of doing business in our state.

The Big Oil Companies like BP and Tesoro and Conoco Phillips paid for getting signatures to put I-1053 on the ballot. They did not do so to lower costs to average middle class taxpayers. They did so to try to make it impossible to allow Legislators to require them to help pay for cleaning up stormwater runoff polluted with the oil products they sell. They want you to believe I-1053 will lower your taxes, really all it will do is shift the tax burden and environmental health costs onto the citizens of Washington while Big Oil laughs all the way to the bank.

Vote NO on 1053 and make the Big Oil Companies pay the cost of cleaning up their waste before they bank their corporate profits taken out of our pocketbooks. Vote No on 1107.

Both measures are on the Nov 2, 2010 General Election Ballot in Washington State.

for additional information see:

http://www.stopgreed.org/

http://www.protectwashington.org/

http://www.voteno1053.com/

http://www.voteno1107.com/

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