Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another governor to work with Eyman?

Gary Locke was the last governor to promote ratification of an Eyman initiative after it was ruled illegal by the courts. That was I-695. It was a body blow to cities and transit agencies who still have not recovered. It was a low point in the Locke governorship.

Now it seems like Chris Gregoire, my favorite politician, is contemplating the same thing. According to the Dave Ammons and the AP, "Gregoire pledged Monday to work with the Legislature to pass property-tax limits if the courts throw out the voter-approved Initiative 747."

Local government is suffocating. Core services are already being cut. The future holds only a long, slow strangulation as they struggle to meet their mandates. If Gregoire and the Legislature want to freeze the state's portion of the property tax, fine. But leave the cities and counties out of it.

That is the compromise that is needed.

Gregoire's contention that people are being taxed out of their homes is problematic. Home prices have erupted so much that the average family cannot afford the average home. Mortgage interest is deductible from federal taxes. The 1% lid is below inflation, so the real revenue from property taxes is dropping. There are senior exemptions for the very low income. People are getting squeezed out of there homes not because their property taxes are going up, but because their incomes are stagnating. The wealth in their homes, illusory as it may be, has been tapped again and again by homeowners in the form of equity loans.

At least let the lid match inflation.

Tim Eyman, as usual, has nothing to offer, and was quoted too freely in the AP article. The amount of energy required to fix the damage after this demagogue runs his lies down through the all-too-credulous voting public has been enormous. If he were a household product, he would have long since been run out of business by product liability suits.

The Governor needs to take a cold look at this issue. The state property tax is devoted exclusively to schools. If the guv thinks they can take the cut, let it be so. But Washington's cities are not enjoying the flush of expectation for new revenues such as that ChangMook Sohn issued for the state last week. (Though I have never heard so many glum words used for such a rosy event.)

If the court strikes down another Eyman initiative, it won't be because of a typo. Show some respect to the judiciary. And show a little compassion for the jurisdictions down the food chain.

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