Tag Archives: TABOR

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 Goes Down the Drain!

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.

Initiative 1033 – Abolishing Local Control of Ciies and Counties

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 would wreck havoc on the idea of local control of cities and counties. Tim Eyman’s one size fits all measure would remove the authority of Washington State cities and towns to control their budgets and spending.

It would impose Tim Eyman’s legislative priority that the most important thing local governments can do, when the economy improves from this recession and more revenue comes in, is help large property owners, real estate developers, mall owners and other businesses and corporations pay their property taxes.

Initiative 1033 would not just deal with the Washington State budget and spending but also puts the same rigid freeze mechanism on spending in place for all 39 Washington counties and 281 cities. Any money above the current year’s spending level must be put in a “Lower Property Tax Account” for each city and county.

Gone would be the ability of elected city council members and the Mayor and county council members to decide how to spend any revenue that comes in above this year’s spending level. It would all go to pay property taxes for property owners in cities and counties.

Eyman says paying property taxes for property owners is a higher priority than restoring any services lost during the current recession due to decreased revenue. He says it’s a higher priority than making sure parks and libraries can stay open, than paying for police and fire protection, than fixing roads or providing public transit or providing health care or help for seniors and the disabled.

If you want to fund any of these programs beyond the current budget level you will have to go to a vote of the people to get approval. This will be the new way all cities ant counties (and the state) will have to operate. It will be budget approval by referendum.

Of course this won’t be free as elections cost money. And then there will be campaign spending for and against any increased spending. And sound bites and campaigning. It’s how California got into their budget quagmire, having campaigns waged for and against spending this or that.

Gone will be legislative deliberations and public meetings and input on budgets and spending. It’ll now be based on polling and politics.

This whole process of reorganizing how local governments makes decisions is the opposite of local control by local taxpayers. Rather than local voters deciding how they want to run their city and county, Eyman proposes that state voters should make this decision for all 39 counties and 281 cities.

This sounds like the worst of ideas, and if Eyman hadn’t stolen this idea from national supporters of TABOR type legislation and Colorado you would think he would be on the other side railing against big government running roughshod over local governments.

If cities and counties want to put this “budgets by referendum” scheme in place they should be able to decide for themselves, not have it decided by state voters. This is overkill and abusive having a statewide vote dictate how local public entities like Spokane or Yakima or Vancouver or Whatcom County or Clark County or Pierce County have to run their governments.

Voters should keep local control of their cities and counties and vote against I-1033 this November 3, 2009 . Keep Eyman from meddling in your local government’s business and vote no on I-1033.

Watch Video on Why I-1033 Would be Bad for Washington State

Initiative 1033 is Tim Eyman’s Washington State version of Colorado’s TABOR law (Taxpayers Bill of Rights). It’s been a dismal failure. It has permanently decreased Colorado’s level of basic services by using the same inflation plus population growth limits. Voter’s recently put the measure on hold to try to undo some of it’s disastrous impacts. You can watch a great video and listen yourself to how Coloradoans now feel about their disastrous experiment. We don’t need Washington State to become a Tim Eyman experiment. Vote No on I-1033 this November 3rd, 2009.

Why I-1033 Limits on Spending Growth Won’t Work

Colorado has had the experience of living under the growth limits on government spending that Tim Eyman is proposing with I-1033 . The Colorado measure was called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR. It was passed by Colorado voters in 1992 as a constitutional amendment and placed strict limits on spending by local and state government. The end result was a drastic decease in public services in Colorado.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a good analysis of some of the many problems Colorado has had and you can go to their website for more detailed information.

I’ve reproduced a section below from their website which addresses some of the specific problems that exist with inflation and population only growth limits like Eyman proposes in I-1033. The magic potion Eyman claims I-1033 is, is actually a very toxic potion that will act as a poison on our state in many ways.

Limiting government spending to only population and inflation growth each year like I-1033 does creates real problems and does not provide for growth of services. It is in the best of times a freeze on government programs and in the worst of times actually decreases government services.

Here the analysis done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities based on the real experiment with this legislation in Colorado that points out some real problems.

“Why a Population plus Inflation Growth Formula Cannot Provide a Constant Level of Public Services

There are several reasons why states cannot provide a constant level of public services under a population-plus-inflation formula.

No existing measure of inflation — neither the Consumer Price Index nor the GDP deflator nor any other measure — correctly captures the growth in the cost of the kinds of services purchased in the public sector. State governments, for instance, are major purchasers of health care, the costs of which are rising far faster than the general rate of inflation.
In most states, a rising share of the state population is utilizing public services. For instance, the number of senior citizens in most states is rising faster than the general population, putting new burdens on programs such as Medicaid.
States often face the burden of providing new or expanded services for reasons outside the control of lawmakers. These include court mandates to increase school funding or other services, response to natural disasters or public health emergencies, major economic shifts such as plant closings, or other reasons.
In an era of large federal deficits, states are increasingly expected to finance a substantial share of new domestic priorities. Some of these expectations take the form of formal mandates, such as the additional education expenditures required under the No Child Left Behind law. Others may reflect what one analyst has called “underfunded expectations,” such as the expectation that states and local governments will provide heightened levels of security as part of the war on terrorism.
New public priorities may require new funding from states above and beyond levels of inflation. Recent state initiatives in areas such as K-12 class size reduction, prescription drug coverage for seniors, college scholarships for students with high levels of academic achievement, and other initiatives generally cannot be accommodated under the population-growth-plus-inflation formula.
It is important to note that all state programs — not just those with cost pressures exceeding the population-growth-plus-inflation level — are threatened by a rigid population-growth-plus-inflation limit. This is because such limits typically cover nearly all areas of state and local spending. So, if one spending area is forced to grow faster than the rate allowed under the limit (for instance due to court order, federal mandate or popular demand), then another spending area must grow at a slower pace — which is to say that in terms of the level of service provided, that second spending area must actually shrink.”

We don’t need to repeat the Colorado experience in Washington State. Vote No on Initiative 1033 this November 3rd. Keep local control of government services and keep government flexibility to respond to changing needs.

for more information on the campaign go to www.no1033.com