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.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Olympian urges voters to reject I-960

Why? Well, because....
Initiative 960 is the wrong solution to a real problem. The measure, which will appear on the Nov. 6, general election ballot, is murky, expensive, mired in bureaucracy and might be unconstitutional.

That’s not surprising given the fact that this is another Tim Eyman approach to governance. He has a reputation of drafting initiatives that cannot stand constitutional muster in the courts.
No surprise there. Most of Eyman's initiatives have been the wrong solutions to real problems, although a few have been addressed at problems that don't exist. There's no denying that our tax structure is regressive, replete with exemptions for special interests, and there are always ways to make government more effective (effective government is a policy direction that progressives firmly stand for).

Eyman is too often given credit for being some sort of creative he doesn't deserve. There is nothing unique about what he is doing; he's simply Washington State's version of Grover Norquist. There are Norquist clones across the country pushing the exact same flawed right wing fiscal policies: tax cuts and spending limits, schemes to tie up representative democracy.

Eyman, who seems to hate government with a passion, abuses the Secretary of State and Attorney General's offices by filing dozens of slightly altered versions of the same initiative in the hopes of being able to pick a good ballot title.

He recycles the same ideas year after year.

In 1998, Eyman worked on an initiative to ban affirmative action (which he later handed off to John Carlson). In 2006 he sponsored Referendum 65, which would have asked voters to legalize discrimination against Washingtonians on the basis of sexual orientation. (I-xxx passed, Referendum 65 never made the ballot).

In 1999, Eyman sponsored I-695, which wiped out the state motor vehicle excise tax, along with millions of dollars in transportation funding. I-695 was thrown out by the Supreme Court, but the Legislature (unwisely) reenacted the cuts. Three years later, in 2002, Eyman went after local vehicle fees with I-776, hoping to kill Sound Transit's light rail project.

I-776 passed narrowly, which led to the repeal of vehicle fees in the four counties where it was collected (King, Snohomish, Pierce, Douglas) but not Sound Transit's fee, which had been used to guarantee bonds. Ironically, I-776 ending up gutting money for local roads (the kind that help people like Tim make it to their homes) but failed to stop light rail.

Four years later, Eyman again targeted vehicle fees with I-917, which, like R-65, failed to make it onto the ballot.

In 2000, Eyman sponsored I-722 to cap property taxes, crippling funding for public services like police and fire. It passed, the courts threw it out, and Eyman returned the next year with an even more stringent proposal...I-747, which passed and was again thrown out in court (and is on appeal before the Supreme Court).

Three years after I-747, Eyman returned with I-864 and I-892, new property tax schemes: one across the board cut and one plan to send taxed revenue from newly legalized electronic slot machines back to taxpayers as rebates. Both failed.

In 2003, Eyman proposed I-807, the forerunner to this year's I-960, somewhat modeled on Initiative 601 from 1994. I-807 didn't qualify the ballot, though I-960 did, thanks to a series of hefty checks from Michael Dunmire.

So now we've got I-960, a draconian libertarian scheme for causing havoc in government, dredged up from a landfill of bad right wing ideas. We've said for months that I-960 is an irresponsible disaster, and The Olympian agrees:
I-960 requires, for example, every single fee increase in all of state government to be approved by the Legislature.

I-960 forces meaningless “advisory” elections.

I-960 abandons representative democracy by requiring public votes on issues that are rightfully the province of our elected representatives.

I-960 is clumsily written and will be challenged in the courts, costing taxpayers millions of dollars
I-960 is a giant, undemocratic waste that you can help prevent. Let Tim Eyman know that you don't agree with his Norquistian ideology of drowning government in a bathtub. Vote NO on I-960 this November.


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