Election results are disproving Tim Eyman's claim that voters are "tapped out"
Politicians are spinning like tops trying to explain away the no-new-tax election results.Really? Then how does he explain the passage of numerous local propositions that are winning with huge margins around the state? Like King County's Medic One levy, which has over 80% support, or the North Kitsap Fire Levy, with over 70% in favor, or parks and recreation levies in Whatcom and Jefferson counties, each with over 60% approval?
They're not listening. Voters have repeatedly said "use our existing tax revenue more effectively, don't raise taxes" (and yes, that includes fees, tolls, and other 'revenue-raising' measures - no matter what you call it, if it takes more of the people's money, then the answer is 'no way').
What about King County's parks levies, which easily passed in the primary?
What about the seventeen local propositions on Whitman County's ballot, all of which are enjoying at least 65% support, some over 75%?
How does Tim explain the trends that indicate SJR 4204 (simple majority for school levies) has a shot at passage? How does he explain the slumping yes vote for his own Initiative 960, which has dropped to 51% statewide?
How does he explain the defeats of Initiatives 912 and 920 in 2005 and 2006? When offered the opportunity to slash taxes statewide, voters said NO.
Where revenue increases are failing (such as with Roads & Transit) there's a common theme: voters weren't confident that they knew what they were getting. Something as complex as a multibillion dollar regional transportation package with many sophisticated details can be daunting. When in doubt, people vote no.
But if people can see how they benefit, if they feel comfortable increasing revenue to raise a community's quality of life, then they frequently vote yes.
The electorate isn't "tapped out". If people truly felt that way, the results would be much different. We'd be seeing revenue increases fail everywhere.
But that's not the case. People are simply voting more cautiously in this election, and there are many possible reasons why.
Voters have long been unhappy about our ridiculously outdated and regressive tax structure - which the Legislature has failed to address - and that has translated into support for some of Eyman's measures, including I-695, I-722, and I-747 (which, amusingly, were each thrown out by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional).
That's why it's so important in the aftermath of the Initiative 747 court decision that the Governor and the Democratic legislature pass progressive tax reform that addresses anxiety and uncertainty over property taxes. What's needed are solutions that provide for greater stability and fairness.
Reimposing Eyman-style draconian limits is the wrong answer, and Democrats who are talking about doing just that are selling out on their values and failing to lead. It's time to look at ideas like a homestead exemption or a circuit breaker. It's time for Olympia to fix this problem and not surrender to Tim Eyman and his allies, including Dino Rossi. And it's definitely time for the progressive movement in Washington to go on the offense and fight for real fiscal responsibility.