Tim Eyman tries to make a joke of the concerns of people opposed to Initiative 1033. People opposed to I-1033 are concerned that Eyman’s budget freeze proposal will costs jobs in the state, cut health care and human services, reduce funding for educating our kids, increase costs to go to college, make it harder or impossible to keep parks and libraries open, reduce police and fire protection, decrease health coverage for seniors and children and much more.
People’s concerns are legitimate and Eyman’s response is to mock them. Eyman appeals to voters selfish side saying it’s more important to reduce property taxes for wealthy property owners than it is to provide any of these services or restore any public services lost due to the current recession. I think voters are smarter than Eyman wants to give them credit for.
I think Damon Agnos over at the Daily Weekly hits Eyman’s lame joke just right in his commentary entitled “Tim Eyman thinks he’s funny“:
“A real privilege of having a job at a paper is receiving Tim Eyman’s regular, rambling electronic missives, wherein he asserts that he’s just standing up for the little guy. One example of standing up for the little guy is pushing an initiative that would redistribute money from regressive sales taxes to big property owners as soon as state and local government pull in more than they did in this year’s recession. It’s a simple formula: when good times return, don’t invest the money in schools, public health, and public safety–give most of it to the Kemper Freemans.”
I think Damon has it exactly right on what I consider to be the fatal flaw that will bring down Initiative 1033. Initiative 1033 is a wealth transfer scheme, taking sales taxes and other fees paid by everyone and only using them to pay property taxes for wealthy property owners when the economy improves and more revenue comes in above this year’s recession baseline used by Eyman in I-1033.
Last year sales taxes accounted for 57% of state revenue. We have the highest sales tax in the country. Eyman says the one and only priority of state and local government should be to use any revenue coming in above the baseline to help people who own property pay their property taxes.
This is a drastic shift of what we currently would use any added revenue for – namely paying for police and fire protection, educating our children, funding colleges and universities, repairing roads and bridges, keeping libraries and parks open, helping businesses create jobs, protecting the environment and people’s health, providing health care for seniors and children and much more.
The fatal flaw in Eyman’s wealth transfer scheme is that not everyone owns property. Some 35% of households in the state are not owner occupied.
Our tax system is one of the most regressive in the country already. Now Eyman wants to have sales taxes paid by renters and senior citizens and working families without property be used to pay taxes for people who have property.
Even for homeowners it’s a rip off. The amount of rebate given under I-1033 is not based on the amount of sales taxes and fees you pay but on the amount of property you own. The more property you own, the more you benefit from I-1033. So someone with a vacation home or a McMansion will see more of a return than someone with a smaller single family home.
Also Eyman isn’t going to tell the public that in addition some 40% of the rebate has to go to commercial property owners. Businesses already get a sales tax exemption for goods they resell. Consumers pay the sales taxes. But the businesses would still benefit under I-1033.
So large commercial property owners, corporations like Boeing, mall owners like Bellevue Square and real estate developers will see larger benefits from I-1033.
That’s some joke for renters who will still pay the same in sales taxes and other fees as before under I-1033. Renters will both not get a tax rebate or see any services lost due to the recession be restored. They will also not see any new public services for the taxes they paid. But they would help pay Boeing’s real estate taxes.
Initiative 1033 is bad for our state and bad for taxpayers. Vote No on I-1033.