Tag Archives: Tim Eyman

Eyman’s 2015 I-1366 is a Repeat of Eyman’s 2014 I-1325

Initiative 1366, sponsored by Tim Eyman, is a citizen’s initiative for the Nov 2015 Election. It is a refiling of Initiative 1325 from 2014 which Eyman failed to get enough signatures on to qualify. Here are a couple of comments from last year  about this proposal.

Spokesman Review – Jan. 10, 2014 Editorial – “Eyman’s Tax Initiative Looking for a Problem”

Tim Eyman has a new idea, his worst ever, and that’s saying something.
The watch salesman turned initiative promoter submitted a proposal to the Washington Secretary of State on Monday that would compel the Legislature to enact and pass along to voters a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote by state lawmakers or voters on any tax increase.
How compel?
Initiative 1325 would cut the state sales tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6.5 percent. The change would reduce annual revenues by about $1 billion. But the reduction would not occur if the Legislature endorses the amendment by April 15, 2015.
In other words, the initiative puts a $1 billion gun to the head of legislators.
Eyman calls the incentive “oomph.” Blackmail is more like it.

This is not about protecting taxpayers. I-1325 is about keeping Eyman in business.

Crosscut, Feb 6, 2014 – “A 2/3 vote for tax bumps?  Tim Eyman will rise again” - article on a vote by the Legislature for a constitutional amendment for a  2/3 vote for revenue to be placed on the ballot. It received a vote of 25 to 21, far short of the 2/3 needed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

“Minority Democrats countered that the Legislature struggled to meet financial requirements when the two-thirds requirement was in effect. They unsuccessfully tried to remove the two-thirds requirements to close tax breaks and to allow majority approval of some fund transfers covered by the supermajority requirement in Roach’s bill. The Democratic attempts failed.
Also, Democrats pointed to the need to comply with a 2012 Supreme Court ruling to upgrade education and to restore a frequently suppressed voters initiative to provide cost-of-living increases to teachers.
Democratic Senate budget chief James Hargrove of Hoquiam noted that it took two extra special sessions in 2013 to close two tax breaks to balance the state budget — with a simple majority rule in place. He said 17 senators — 12 percent of the entire Legislature  — could hold the budget hostage in order to get their pet bills passed. “It’s called the rule of 17, a super-minority,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent.

From the Washington State Secretary of State’s website:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1366 concerns state taxes and fees.

This measure would decrease the sales tax rate unless the legislature refers to voters a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and legislative approval for fee increases.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would decrease the state retail sales tax rate on April 15, 2016, from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent. The sales tax rate would not be decreased if, by April 15, 2016, two-thirds of both legislative houses refer to the ballot a vote on a constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and majority legislative approval to set the amount of a fee increase.

View Complete Text PDF

Initiative 1366 is an Ted Cruz style of coercion measure, threatening to remove $1 billion a year in revenue from the state budget. It would severely cripple funding for education in this state.  It is a libertarian ant- government, anti-tax initiative intended  to lock in tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy and severely limit funding of public services by requiring a 2/3 vote to raise revenue or repeal tax loopholes.

Do not sign or support or vote for Initiative 1366!

I-1366 – Another Eyman Initiative to Help Corporations and the Wealthy

Initiative 1366 is another Washington State initiative attempt by libertarian Tim Eyman to help the wealthy and corporate America avoid taxes and tax reform. With the most regressive tax structure in the country it is  a blatant attempt to prevent the Legislature from engaging in tax reform or eliminating tax exemptions that do not benefit the state or its citizens. It proposes to use an extortion tactic reminiscent of Senator Ted Cruz’s trying to shut down the Federal government to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

I-1366 would eliminate $1 billion in sales taxes per year  from the  state budget if the Legislature does not vote to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for a vote. Eyman’s proposed amendment would require a 2/3 vote by the Legislature to raise taxes or eliminate tax exemptions.

Eyman is not able to secure anywhere near the required 2/3 vote required by the Washington State Legislature to normally put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.  So he is attempting this extortion tactic which requires only a majority vote of the public to reduce the sales tax by a billion dollars unless the Legislature takes a 2/3 vote and puts his “corporate tax loophole preservation amendment” on the ballot.

Something just stinks about this sort of extortion style tactics to get what you want rather than following the normal political process.  Eyman of course is trying to sell this to low and middle income voters as a way to keep their taxes low. The problem is that the reverse takes place. Washington State has the most regressive tax structure in the country according to a 2015 report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The ITEP report states that the lowest 20% of income earners (non-elderly) making less than $21,000 pay 16.8% of their income in state and local taxes. Meanwhile the wealthiest top 1% earning over $507,000 pay only 2.4% of their income in state and local taxes.

This is not the first year that Washington State held this distinction but it is an ongoing one because for many years Washington state has had a 2/3 vote requirement to raise revenue as well as repeal non-performing tax exemptions. Raising revenue as defined also includes the legislature changing a revenue source even if the overall revenue raised is neutral. This has made tax reform extremely difficult.

The 2/3 vote requirement first put in place by Initiative 601 in 1993, suspended several times and re-enacted several times by initiative until finally ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by the Washington State Supreme Court. The court declared that the 2/3 voting requirement to raise revenue violated Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution which stated that for a bill to become law it needed a majority vote.

Eyman uses the fear of tax increases by the legislature on those hurting the most by the regressive tax structure of our state. This fear recently saw another defeat of an income tax initiative – I-1098 which would have shifted more taxes to the wealthy and reduced the regressiveness of our  state’s tax structure.

Voters need to understand that 2/3 vote requirements like Eyman is proposing help the wealthy and corporations the most. They allow a minority of 1/3 of the Legislators in either Legislative house who are anti – government anti- tax to overrule a majority of Legislators that want both to enact a fairer tax system and also fund public services like educating our children and helping the needy. Eyman is motivated by an anti-tax anti-government libertarian agenda that puts wealth accumulation and concentration in the hands of a few.  There is no trickle down – it is more like a waterspout with only the rich having the buckets to collect the money.

Don’t sign I-1366 and if it gets on the ballot vote NO. Support tax reform to help end wealth inequality and tax regressiveness. Support raising the minimum wage. Don’t enact a law like I-1366 which will take a billion dollars out of funding for state education for our kids.  Don’t support passing legislation like I-1366 which helps corporations keep their tax loopholes and the wealthy pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than low and middle income earners.

 

Brad Owen Voids Republican Senate Rule as Unconstitutional

In a ruling on March 2, 2015,  Brad Owen, the Lt Governor of Washington State and presiding officer and President of the Washington  Senate did the right thing. He declared that the Senate rule passed by the Republicans in the Washington State Senate earlier this year to require a 2/3 vote to raise revenue was unconstitutional and thus void. As noted in a press release by the Northwest Progressive Institute, Brad Owen stated:

“The President has previously stated, The Senate cannot pass a rule that violates the state Constitution,” …: “Perhaps that statement should be clarified to read, The Senate may adopt an unconstitutional rule, but the President will not enforce it.”

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that requiring a 2/3 vote of legislators to raise revenue was unconstitutional because the Washington State Constitution said laws shall be passed by majority votes. As written in the Tacoma News Tribune at the time:

The language and history of the constitution evince a principle favoring a simple majority vote for legislation,” wrote Justice Susan Owens for the 6-3 majority (previous posts mistakenly said Chief Justice Madsen wrote majority). “The State’s proposed reading of article II, section 22 would fundamentally alter our system of government, and such alteration is possible only through constitutional amendment. Washington’s government was founded as a representative democracy based on simple majority rule.” “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.”

Brad Owen based his decision on the Washington State Supreme Court decision. As reported by the Tacoma News Tribune :

“The state Senate’s presiding officer said Monday he won’t enforce a Senate rule making it harder to raise taxes. The rule violates the state constitution, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen ruled. With the ruling by Owen, a Democrat, the votes of 25 of 49 senators are required to move a tax through the Senate, the same 50-percent-plus-one majority as required in the House. The rule required a two-thirds supermajority to bring a bill to a final vote if the bill created new taxes. In invalidating it, Owen relied on a 2013 state Supreme Court ruling striking down voter-passed requirements for two-thirds supermajorities for taxes.”

Unfortunately the Tacoma News also gives a plug for libertarian anti tax Tim Eyman who for years pushed the unconstitutional 2/3 voting requirement in initiative campaigns. He is now pushing a “Ted Cruz style shut down the government stop educating our kids until I get my way” initiative. While he likes the 2/3 voting proposal when it suits his purpose, he hates it when it is an obstacle to get his way.
The Washington State Supreme Court said the only way a 2/3 rule could apply was if it was in the Washington State Constitution. But that’s the kicker – it takes a 2/3 vote of the legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Eyman doesn’t have anywhere near what he needs for 2/3 since Republicans are his main base of support.  And they are in the minority in the House and barely 2 votes over a majority in the Senate.
Eyman’s answer –Initiative 1366 – have voter’s cut $1 billion from the state budget until they put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Voters would be ill served by starting to hold the legislature hostage to ransom since voters would be the ones suffering by seeing public education and other services cut even more.
Many voters miss the connection that who really benefits are large corporations who don’t want to pay taxes like for cleaning up their pollution. Big oil companies like BP and Tesoro gave Eyman big money in the past so the Legislature couldn’t raise funds from them to clean up oil pollution. It the average individual and family taxpayers who suffer as a result because they have to pay instead of the polluters who are making huge profits.
In addition BP and other corporations don’t want to see their tax loopholes end.  While they only take a majority vote to enact, under the 2/3 proposal it would take a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to end them, even if they provided no benefit to the state. The 2/3 vote proposal actually puts the minority in charge of tax policy since 1/3 of the Legislators in either house could then block tax legislation.
All in all it is a bad dealer for working families and most taxpayers in our state. Corporations love the idea. Don’t be fooled.  Don’t support Eyman’s latest corporate benefiting initiative that would further damage education in our state. Don’t sign Initiative 1366. And don’t vote for it, if his paid signature gatherers help him make it onto the November ballot.

Why Eyman’s 1/3 Constitutional Vote Proposal is Bad for Washington Taxpayers

`Tim Eyman is trying to convince voters that Washington State needs a constitutional amendment to allow 1/3 of the Legislators to decide issues regarding raising revenues in Washington state. He has  filed Initiative 1325 to try to force the legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot by a coercive tactic of proposing to cut the state component of the state sales tax by 15% if they don’t. Eyman calls it a 2/3 vote measure but the reality is that it allows 1/3 of the Legislators to make budget decisions on raising revenue rather than a majority.

Eyman’s attempt to enact his  1/3 constitutional amendment is a repeat of the recent Republican extortionist  proposal regarding raising the debt limit  in Congress by shutting down government.   The 15% cut under Eyman’s measure if the Legislature doesn’t play by his rules would occur by reducing the current 6.5% state sales tax to 5.5%.  This would equal over a billion dollars a year. Of course to Eyman the one billion dollars has no significance, it is merely a tool to try to use as extortion to promote  his libertarian view that taxes and government can do no good and the more we cut them the better. Continue reading

Senator Adam Kline Announces He Will Retire from Legislature

Democratic Senator Adam Kline of the 37th LD has announced that he will not re-run this year for the Washington State legislative seat  he has held for many years.  He has been a staunch advocate on many progressive issues and will be missed.  In particular, unlike many other Legislators, he was willing to publicly oppose Tim Eyman’s many attempts to be Grover Norquist’s surrogate in Washington State. Eyman  would repeatedly say government was wasting money  and pushed initiatives to gut  government funding by opposing taxes of any kind.  Kline demanded Eyman publicly say what programs he thought should be cut and Eyman never responded, choosing instead to hide behind empty libertarian anti-tax rhetoric. Continue reading

Vote “Maintain” on Five Eyman “Tax Advisory Votes”

The Washington State Ballot this November has five tax advisory votes which are very confusing to most people.

These tax advisory votes were put there by  Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960 as his attempt to increase public resentment to any “tax” measures even when they benefit the larger public. The ballot title for each is basically written as an  anti-tax push poll based on Eyman’s ballot title language in Initiative 960 that stipulated the ballot title wording.

They carry no Legislative weight as they only record  voters opinions. In essence they are like a public opinion poll paid for by taxpayers. But Eyman tries to use them to show public opposition to funding public services by wording them such that voters will be inclined to respond negatively to any tax increase. Under Eyman’s definition of tax increases he also includes any efforts by the Legislature to repeal any tax exemptions or tax expenditures even if they are tax loopholes that only benefit special interests and not the general public.

Deciphering the ballot title language is very tricky and confusing. It waspurposely written to try to get voters to vote to repeal any tax increase passed by the Legislature.   And unlike initiatives, the writeup on the so called tax advisory votes  in the voter’s pamphlet contain no explanatory statement, no pro and con statements, and no fiscal impact statement.

In fact the State Attorney General had no real ability to even try to fairly explain the issue in the ballot title since Eyman’s initiative 960 required that the ballot tile be written as:

The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, (identification of tax and description of increase), costing (most up-to-date ten-year cost projection, expressed in dollars and rounded to the nearest million) in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be:
Repealed . . .[ ]
Maintained . . .[ ]

I have made bold the mandatory wording required which by itself is intended to encourage people to vote to repeal any “tax increase”.

Both Democrats and Republicans voted by wide margins in the Legislature to approve all 5 of these measures, including to repeal some tax exemptions and fix the inheritance tax exclusion set up by a court decision, to secure revenue to help fund the budget.

Voters should vote to “maintain” these legislative decisions.

Advisory Vote No. 3 (Substitute Senate Bill 5444)

Ballot Title

The legislature eliminated, without a vote of the people, a leasehold excise tax credit for taxpayers who lease publicly-owned property, costing approximately $2,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

[  ]  Repealed

[X  ]  Maintained

 

Advisory Vote No. 4 (Senate Bill 5627)

Ballot Title

The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, an aircraft excise tax on commuter air carriers in lieu of property tax, costing approximately $500,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

Repealed   [  ]

Maintained   [ X ]

 

Advisory Vote No. 5 (Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1846)

Ballot Title

The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, the insurance premium tax to some insurance for pediatric oral services, costing an amount that cannot currently be estimated, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

Repealed   [  ]

Maintained   [X  ]
Advisory Vote No. 6 (Second Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1971)

Ballot Title

The legislature eliminated, without a vote of the people, a retail sales tax exemption for certain telephone and telecommunications services, costing approximately $397,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

Repealed   [  ]

Maintained   [X  ]

 

Advisory Vote No. 7 (Engrossed House Bill 2075)

Ballot Title

The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, estate tax on certain property transfers and increased rates for estates over $4,000,000, costing approximately $478,000,000 in the first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

Repealed   [  ]

Maintained   [X  ]

For additional information on these measures see the Washington State Voters Pamphlet which gives links to the actual bills passed by the Legislature. Click on the tab “full text” to read the original bill as passed by the Washington State Legislature.

You can also refer to the statement in the Progressive Voters Guide.

The Tax Advisory Vote requirement  in I-960 is a waste of taxpayer dollars, both in the added costs to print up and tally ballot votes and the extra cost to print up Eyman’s required material in the Voters pamphlet. They represent an abuse of the public electoral process in that they are no more than a biased anti-tax slanted push poll conducted at public expense. The Advisory Tax Vote requirement  in I-960 needs to be either repealed by legislators or the voters.

Tax Advisory Votes Might Not Mean Much But Cost a Lot, Seattle Times, July 16, 2013

Voters to Send Pricey Telegram with Five Tax Advisory Votes -Legislators will get scarlet letter, Erik Smith, Washington State Wire, July 23, 2013

 

 

Tim Eyman’s Attack on Free Speech with Initiative 517

Initiative 517 is a Tim Eyman initiative that is on the November 2013 ballot in Washington State.  It is a measure to promote Tim Eyman’s  business – which is making a living off of putting conservative libertarian measures on the ballot.  In this case Eyman wants to create a 25 foot signature gathering zone around petitioners where people can not speak out and oppose his business. It is a direct infringement on the free speech rights of citizens, violating the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.

Jason Mercier of the conservative “free market” Washington Policy Center writes about Initiative 517 in today’s Thedailyworld.com under a headline of “Heavy hitters line up against I-517“. Mercier in his opinion piece brushes aside some of the concerns about Eyman’s self serving initiative as non-controversial.  That is not the reality.

This measure is not as uncontroversial as Jason Mercier suggests. One of Eyman’s provisions is to create a 25 foot no harassment zone around signature gatherers.  There are already penalties for harassment that work just fine. I-517 tries to go much further by shutting down free speech activities around petition gatherers.

Eyman’s measure infringes on 1st amendment rights by setting up a 25 zone around petitioners saying that certain activity can result in disorderly conduct charges including activity that is “…intimidating, or maintaining an intimidating presence within twenty-five feet of any person gathering signatures”.  To most petitioners someone standing 5 feet away and carrying a sign saying “do not sign this measure” or merely saying out loud that citizens should read the measure before signing it causes petitioners to say they are being harassed.

This measure is an attempt to shut down public discourse and dialogue in  public places and silence those opposing Eyman’s measures.  This violates 1st amendment free speech rights and goes too far.  Eyman wants a free pass to collect signatures without anyone questioning him.  Trying to silence those that dissent peacefully with others is what you would expect in a totalitarian society, but not in America.

We will publish more of our concerns about Initiative 517 over the next few months but believe it goes too far.  The public strongly supply the initiative process in Washington State and it has been used by both right and left leaning groups in pushing Washington policy and law. But there is a balancing act necessary to protect rights of both supporters and opponents of specific initiative measures in the public arena.

Initiative 517 is a “solution” looking for a problem and there isn’t one in this case. Eyman has not had a problem getting initiatives on the ballot and neither have others, especially if they have money. This measure would make it easier for Eyman to get more of his measures on the ballot and that is why he is pushing it.

For progressives thinking this will make it easier for them to get measures on the ballot, the downside is that they will also have to spend more time fighting more conservative measures put on the ballot by Eyman, including those at the local level. It’s already hard enough to fight an Eyman measure year after year.  Think what it will be like with two or three Eyman measures on the ballot each year and 4 or 5 others at the same time at the local level.

We elect a Legislature to do the people’s business after public hearings and review.  While initiatives are a healthy outlet  for the public to act when the legislature doesn’t, running our state more and more by initiative puts the process of making our state laws up for sale to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately the highest bidder is usually corporate and special interests that can afford to spend millions to get their message out to the voting public.

 

 


							

Tim Eyman’s Libertarian Vision for Washington State

Tim Eyman’s political philosophy for Washington State is libertarian at heart. The problem is that the libertarian vision is no vision at all. Libertarians argue for a minimalist government and this is Tim Eyman’s approach on his initiatives. If one asks who is Tim Eyman most like in his ideas, both Grover Norquist and Ayn Rand come to mind.  There is seemingly no end point in how small government should be or how minimal taxes should be.

As E J Dionne wrote recently in the Washington Post  Libertarianism’s Achilles’ heel is that there is currently no country in the world that is libertarian run. That in itself should give voters pause as they blindly follow Eyman. It is a dead end for our state as education funding and other vital state functions get reduced and reduced until it’s only everyone for themselves.

Thinking about what Eyman’s approach leads to comes to mind because of an article I came across written by Andy Garber of the Seattle Times right before last year’s elections. Eyman’s two thirds vote requirement for the Washington State Legislature had not yet been overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The  article was entitled “State ballots’ new twist: tax advisory votes“.

The article noted that Eyman’s Initiative 960 and and I-1185 on that November’s ballot not only required a 2/3 vote by the legislature to pass taxes but also added a” nonbinding public advisory vote” when lawmakers approved any tax increase no matter by what margin of votes or whose taxes were affected.

By Eyman’s definition repealing a tax loophole was a tax increase, even if the loophole provided no public benefit and transferred tax obligations to others.   In reality tax loopholes are tax expenditures – off budget spending of tax revenue to benefit a special interest or business but without the regular in depth scrutiny other state expenditures get during the regular biennial budget process. And with Eyman all taxes need to be opposed as runaway spending regardless of who pays or for what purpose.

Looking at the two advisory votes on the November 2012 ballot placed there as a result of Eyman’s I-960 and the response by Eyman as to what these votes meant points out the absurdity of Eyman’s libertarian slash taxes in all cases approach to dealing with public issues.

Here is the wording of advisory vote No 2 as set up by Tim Eyman’s language in Initiative 960.

The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, expiration of a tax on possession of petroleum products and reduced the tax rate, costing $24,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.
 This tax increase should be:

[  ]  Repealed

[  ]  Maintained

The voting public got no further explanation than the ballot title in the voter’s pamphlet, unlike initiatives and referendum which have an explanatory statement, a fiscal impact statement (not a 10 year cost projection) and no arguments for or against.

In addition the attorney general had no real ability to explain the issue in the ballot title since Eyman’s initiative 960 required that the ballot tile be written as:

The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, (identification of tax and description of increase), costing (most up-to-date ten-year cost projection, expressed in dollars and rounded to the nearest million) in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be:
Repealed . . .[ ]
Maintained . . .[ ]‰

I have made bold  the mandatory wording required which by themselves are  intended to encourage people to vote to repeal any “tax increase”.

In the advisory vote No 2, voters voted  “to repeal” this “tax increase” by a vote of 55% to 45%. No campaign was run to urge voters to maintain the “tax increase” because it was only an advisory vote. If one had been run voters might have gotten more information on what this bill really did. The bill SHB 2590 passed the House by 93 yeas, 1 nay and 4 excused.  It passed the Senate by 40 yeas, 0 nays and 9 excused. It was supported by the Washington Oil Marketers Association and the Western States Petroleum Association.

In reality the “petroleum tax” was really an insurance program that particularly benefited all homeowners with underground oil storage tanks from liability caused by oil leaking from a tank. Cleanup fees from leaking oil pollution could easily exceed $10,000 to $20,000 in liability plus contaminated water problems. This was not a controversial bill and easily exceeded the then 2/3 vote requirement imposed by Eyman to raise taxes.

Yet Eyman’s myopic libertarian philosophy says all taxes are bad and should be opposed. His push poll style ballot title wording contributed to voters voting against “tax increases” even when those increases benefited taxpayers. That’s because for Eyman the issue isn’t about good government or responsible government. It’s about the least government possible.

Eyman’s response before the election according to Andrew Garber’s article was:

“Eyman said that if voters reject the taxes approved by lawmakers, he hopes the Legislature would repeal them.”   

The second advisory vote on the ballot was to repeal a tax break originally passed to help home state bank Washington Mutual, which went out of business.  It now only benefited large out of state banks  by eliminating B&O taxes they would otherwise have had to pay on interest on residential loans on 1st mortgages.

Again using Eyman’s push poll style ballot title the ballot title read:

The legislature eliminated, without a vote of the people, a business and occupation tax deduction for certain financial institutions’ interest on residential loans, costing $170,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.

This tax increase should be:

[  ]  Repealed

[  ]  Maintained

Again the public responded to the anti-tax bias in the ballot title and with no campaign supporting the measure and no further explanation, the public in their advisory vote mode voted 56.9% to 43.1% to repeal ending this tax break that didn’t benefit state taxpayers but did give a tax break to big out of state banks.

In Eyman’s world it is all black and white. Taxes are bad. Government is bad. And those that follow blindly after him are hurting their own self interest and the state’s ability to fund program that benefit the public. Fortunately the advisory votes were only “advisory”.  But knee jerk public reaction to be anti tax in Eyman’s libertarian world only leads to people blindly followed his pied piper like lead over the cliff as they respond without thinking.

Eyman this year continues his assault on state government by proposing a new initiative to the legislature to limit all tax increases to one year until the state puts on the ballot a constitutional amendment to  require a 2/3 vote to raise any revenue or repeal any tax exemption. This would turn over to a 1/3 minority faction of legislators veto power over a majority of legislators. It seems Eyman’s libertarian views are not held by the majority of Legislators elected so he needs to try to change the rules to let a minority of legislators run the state. Voters need to reject Eyman’s libertarian government takeover proposal by not signing  his initiative and vigorously opposing it if it makes it onto next year’s ballot.

Eyman’s Proposed Initiative Continues his Libertarian Attack on State Government

Tim Eyman’s latest proposed initiative continues his right wing libertarian approach to try to shut down state government.  He is proposing to limit tax increases to one year and push for repeated votes at tax payer expense for  minority rule that would let a 1/3 minority of Legislators run our state government by taking over the Washington State  Legislature.  It is a recipe for disaster.

Our current problem in the legislature is not one of over taxation but of out of control tax expenditures given by Legislators to special interests. The state has a revenue problem – giving away tax exemptions instead of collecting revenue.  See http://dor.wa.gov/docs/reports/2012/Exemption_study_2012/Intro_and_Summary_of_findings.pdf

Take B&O taxes listed in the 2012 State Tax Exemption Report -on B&O taxes on business – the state gave out 176 tax breaks totaling some $7.5 billion while collecting only $6.5 billion in revenue. The exemptions were 54% of the potential tax base.

The 2012 Tax Exemption Study also stated that in the 2011 – 2013 budget some $21 billion was collected in B&O taxes and sales/use taxes.  At the same time some $20 billion in these same taxes was not collected and was essentially an expenditure of state funds to support those that got the exemption.

The state currently has some 640 tax exemptions in place. Under a 2/3 Constitution Amendment tax expenditures could be put in place by a majority vote but would require a 2/3 vote to repeal.

A 2/3 vote constitutional amendment would lock in all these exemptions that are forcing higher taxes on those that pay and don’t get an exemption.  It is a recipe for disaster.

Eyman’s  anti-tax hysteria  borders on the ludicrous. It serves no purpose but to push a radical philosophy exposed by those like Grover Norquist and Tea Party fanatics to shut down government.  It is irresponsible and harmful to the state government and Washington State’s residents. It would prevent significant tax reform and benefit special interests and corporations while hurting those who need state help. It would prevent adequate funding of education and other essential state services.

People need to say NO to Eyman’s  continued anti-tax monologue. Enough is enough.

Supermajority Vote Allows for Minority Interests to Trump Majority

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).”