Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 is still going down the drain by a decisive margin. The latest vote count on the Washington Secretary of State’s website has it 56% NO to 44% YES. Ironically its symbolically what Grover Norquist, the national anti-tax fanatic that Eyman emulates, wanted to do with government – reduce it to a size he could drown in a bathtub and put down the drain. Instead it is I-1033 going down the drain.
Grover Norquist, now with Americans for Tax Reform, had been the National Taxpayers Union Executive Director in the past. On October 28, 2009 the National Taxpayers Union filed papers with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for a political action committee they named “Taxpayers for 1033”. No money is listed as having been contributed to the PAC in Washington State.
Taxpayers for 1033 put up a website with a blog and news links and a donation page. At the bottom of the web page were the words “Copyright Yes ON 4 2009”. Yes on 4 is the name of a political action committee that was supporting an initiative similar to I-1033 in the State of Maine known as Question 4.
Both Yes on 4 and Taxpayers for 1033 were right wing efforts by the National Taxpayers Union to help enact Colorado style legislation to freeze public services, cutting off the use of any revenue above this year’s baseline spending for public services.
Question 4 in Maine was at last count also decisively losing by 60% NO to 40% YES; an even bigger number than preliminary numbers for I-1033.Voters in Maine defeated 2 previous efforts to enact TABOR measures in Maine. Question 4 lost by a larger margin than when it was on the ballot 2 years ago in Maine.
Like in Washington State, the people in Maine supporting TABOR raised very little money for the actual ballot campaign. Most of their money was spent on paid signature gatherers to get on the ballot. It’s pretty funny that these so called anti-government measures can’t even recruit enough volunteers to get on the ballot without having to pay people to collect signatures.
The defeat of these two measures should quiet down the right wing’s rabid thirst for killing taxes. They act like vampires, wanting to suck the life out of government services. But voters have seen the effects of the cuts and job loses on local and state governments due to the current recession and reject the notion that this is something government brought on itself. In Washington State this year severe cuts were made in public services without raising taxes.
Of course the National Taxpayers Union was hoping one or both of these measures would pass to keep their fundraising going by declaring taxpayer revolts at the state level. So far out of dozens of these measures on the ballot over the years, only Colorado voters have passed one.
What people actually see today is that it is the lack of government oversight that contributed to the current recession and if anything, know that unregulated financial institutions are more of a threat than paying taxes for public services used by everyone – like parks and libraries and roads and schools and health care and public transit and much more.
There is always a need for safeguards to prevent waste and to maintain a balance between taxes and spending but the public also knows and appreciates the value of the public safety net to help those needing help and the cooperative relationship between the public and private sector needed to keep a healthy community functioning. Freezing public budgets is not an answer to efficient functioning government. Neither is requiring future budgeting by repeated referendums by the voters.
Eyman threatens to come back with another initiative next year. No surprise here. Besides 1033, he has filed some 19 other initiatives with the Secretary of State this year. His multiple filings of initiatives are his attempt to score a favorable ballot title from the Attorney General as he changes a few words each time.
Here is a prime example of how a private interest, a business that makes money filing initiatives, is wasting public resources for private gain. He pays the state $5.00 to file an initiative, and forces state workers using taxpayer dollars to review the measures and come up with a ballot title and summary for each separate measure. One version of a measure is reasonable; 8 or 10 different versions with only a few words changed is not.
A higher filing fee would at least give some money back to taxpayers for the public costs involved. But another idea might be to do like Oregon does and require that before someone can get a ballot title at public expense, they need to also file a thousand signatures of registered voters as sponsors of the measure to show that they are serious about actually doing an initiative. .
People also need to take their time and read and understand what it is they are signing before they commit all of us to vote on poorly thought out measures like I-1033 again. Too many people sign initiatives based on phrases and slogans that really do not describe what happens if the initiative in question becomes law. Read before you sign and we will all be better off.