Tag Archives: Initiative 747

Governor Gregoire Not Listening to Public on Initiative 747

When you send a message to the Governor you would hope that someone actually reads it. I’m sure the Governor doesn’t read all of her e-mail but someone should at least be keeping track of what the public is saying.

So you figure – I sent a message to the Governor questioning the rush to pass I-747. We need property tax relief that addresses the unfairness of laws like I-747 with its across the board cuts that benefit wealthy property owners more than middle and low income property owners. Re-enacting I-747 doesn’t address the real property tax problem.

So the Governor responds back with the following e-mail.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Initiative 747. I know that voters are disappointed by this, and I am committed to acting quickly to resolve the situation.

I-747 was approved in 2001 by a large margin, and the will of the voters should be respected. I have called the legislature into a special session on November 29 to address this issue, and will be asking that the one percent property tax limitation be reinstated.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns. During this year’s election I heard loud and clear that voters are concerned about their tax burden. It is our responsibility to move quickly, recognizing these concerns and reinstating the will of the voters.


Christine O. Gregoire

Whoever reads the Governor’s e-mail and whose job it is to respond should at least write up 2 different responses – one for those supporting her position and one for those opposing it. I was not disappointed by the Supreme Court overturning I-747. Many voters are not disappointed because it is an unfair tax that doesn’t provide the type of help low and middle income property owners could use.

I am disappointed in Governor Gregoire – that she is caving into Tim Eyman and Dino Rossi and seems to have no clue about real property tax reform. She should be looking at ways to relieve the tax burden on low and middle income taxpayers and proposing legislation for a homestead exemption or circuit breaker legislation.

People forget that there is no magic in a 1% limit that doesn’t allow government revenue to even keep pace with inflation. People forget that Eyman first wrote an initiative with a 2% limit that voters passed but which the courts threw out.

As the Tacoma News Tribune wrote in an editorial recently, ” I-747 wasn’t thoughtful; it was a spiteful attack on all local governments because a handful of them had challenged I-722’s 2 percent limit in court.” To now just re-enact I-747 without considering the long term consequences that are building up because it prevents revenue from even keeping up with inflation, would be irresponsible on the part of the Legislature.

The Washington State Legislature should show leadership on this issue and only approve I-747 as a holding pattern on property taxes by adding a sunset provision. Then they should do a study of the impacts of I-747 on needed revenue for local and state government. They should hold hearings and pass legislation for a homestead exemption or pass circuit breaker legislation.

But just reinstating I-747 without evaluating its impacts on local and state governments and without exploring alternatives that are more helpful and fairer to low and middle income taxpayers would show a Governor and a Legislature out of touch with the real world.

House Democrats Working for Eyman

Seventeen House Democrats have signed onto HB 2117 in the Washington State Legislature. House Bill 2117 would re-enact the provisions of Eyman’s Initiative 747. Initiative 747 is currently being reviewed by the Washington State Supreme Court after a lower court overturned it.

I-747 limited revenue growth from property taxes each year to the lesser of 1% or inflation, whichever is lower. The problem is that if inflation is greater than 1%, the revenues available to cities and counties do not keep up with inflation and fewer services can be provided.

Many cities and counties, particularly ones that are experiencing little new construction, are facing revenue shortfalls. This is particularly true for some counties in eastern Washington.

In addition many voters are confused when they see their property tax bills go up 5% or more each year in their taxing district. They don’t understand that the 1% limit applies to the overall property tax valuations. If some homes increase in value faster than other homes in a city or county they will see a bigger tax increase on their personal property tax bills. The 1% limit does not refer to an individual taxpayer ‘s property taxes being limited to only a 1% increase.

What Washington State needs is a Property Tax Homestead Exemption on people’s principal residence. It could either be a flat exemption on all homes – like the first $50,000 of valuation is not taxed. Or it could be a percentage of the median property tax in a county – like the first 25% of the median property tax valuation is exempt from being taxed.

Tim Eyman signed into the Legislative hearings this year on property tax bills as opposed to the Homestead Exemption. He is not interested in changing our tax system to one that is fairer and less regressive – he is only for an across the Board cutting of taxes , which cuts funding for local services.

It seems that some Democrats aren’t willing to take a closer look at alternatives like the Property Tax Homestead Exemption or Circuit Breakers which would benefit those homeowners most needing help – low and middle income households, who pay a higher percentage of their wages for property taxes than the more wealthy do.

It is important that taxpayers contact their legislators and urge them not to re-enact I-747. There are better solutions to solving rising property tax burdens than across the board property tax cuts which benefit wealthy property owners like shopping malls and developers more than the average taxpayer struggling to make ends meet.

The Washington Tax Fairness Coalition has set up a website page that will allow you to communicate your opposition to rushing to enact I-747, rather than look at alternative property tax proposals that specifically help low and middle income homeowners most in need of help.

Click here to send a message to Legislators. This is a link that allows you to send a message to your Legislators. The Washington Tax Fairness Coalition message is on both I-747 and their priority bill to have a tax exemption report included as part of the State budget. You can modify their text to send your own message.

Washington State House Democrats supporting re-enacting Eyman’s I-747:

Christopher Hurst L.D. 31
Kevin Van De Wege L.D. 24
John McCoy L.D. 38
Dean Takko L.D. 19
Don Barlow L.D. 6
Troy Kelley L.D. 28
Christine Rolfes L.D. 23
Larry Seaquist L.D. 26
Mark Ericks L.D. 1
Deborah Eddy L.D. 48
Ross Hunter L.D. 48
Dave Quail L.D. 40
Lynn Kessler L.D. 24
Dawn Morrell L.D. 25
Brian Blake L.D. 19
Pat Sullivan L.D. 47
Patricia Lantz L.D. 26

These Legislators need to hear from their constituents that they don’t support I-747 tax cuts that hurt local services like paying for police, fire, parks, and libraries by not allowing revenues to even keep up with inflation. Eyman’s I-747 was not tax reform for a fairer tax system, it was a tax cutting measure to cut local government services. It is the wrong answer to fairer taxes for Washington taxpayers!