Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Newest Tim Eyman initiative would devastate Washington's economy

I see that Tim Eyman has cajoled The Olympian, the News Tribune, and the Associated Press into writing about his 2009 initiative moneymaking scheme. Eyman sent out a teaser email to his supporters and the traditional media this morning, announcing he'll be filing the initiative on Monday.

Eyman's "announcement" is not news to NPI; this is exactly what we've been expecting. We have a good guess as to what we're going to be fighting early, because Eyman files his initiatives to the people months in advance as initiatives to the Legislature, and this year is no exception.

His 2009 initiative exists in several preliminary versions filed in 2008:
  • Initiative 413
  • Initiative 415
  • Initiative 427
The reason Eyman files preliminary versions is so that he can goad the Attorney General's office into writing different ballot titles for him. Then he picks the one he likes the best and files that version as his initiative to the people, with the assumption that the Attorney General will just use the same ballot title.

(The title is the summary of the measure that voters see on their ballots. The Attorney General's office is responsible with drafting a ballot title for every initiative filed. It costs only $5 to file an initiative in Washington).

Anyway, Eyman's 2009 measure would hurt Washington's economy by imposing artificial limits on how much money goes into our schools, police and fire protection, libraries, parks, pools, our transportation system, and every other public service the government provides. State, county, and city leaders would only have the same amount of money that was spent in the previous year to work with, plus a little extra to account for inflation.

Considering Governor Gregoire's proposed budget consists of deep cuts almost everywhere, passage and implementation of Eyman's initiative would lock in the cuts and make them permanent, hurting all of us and making it impossible for the state to fund any major infrastructure improvements of any kind.

It's a cynical attack on our common wealth.

It's also badly timed. What America and Washington State need most right now is a government-provided economic stimulus. Read the latest articles in BusinessWeek and you'll find quotes from executives and workers from industry after industry expressing hope that Barack Obama's public works investment plan will help spark an economic recovery and lift us out of recession.

Libertarians like Tim Eyman believe in a failed ideology that government should be beaten and battered until it's the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. That's the whole point of shameless initiatives like these. They're designed to paralyze public services and make them stop working, creating even more anti-government sentiment and citizen resentfulness towards state leaders.

To qualify his anti-prosperity measure for the ballot, Eyman will need to submit at least 241,153 valid signatures from Washingtonians registered to vote - up from about 224,000 last year. (The minimum number increased because of record turnout in the 2008 elections. Initiatives require the signatures of 8% of the number of people who voted in the last election for governor).

Because Eyman doesn't have a grassroots force, he'll need about half a million dollars or so to pay an a small army of mercenary petitioners - many from out of state - to collect signatures for him. It's unclear whether he has a sugar daddy lined up to help him or not. The guy who's been bankrolling him for the last few years - investment banker Michael Dunmire - is apparently tapped out.

(Dunmire hasn't donated to Eyman since last spring, and Eyman took out a second mortgage on his house to help generate the money to put his 2008 measure on the ballot. Voters defeated Initiative 985 in a landslide two months ago).

Regardless of whether Eyman finds the money to buy his way onto the ballot or not, Permanent Defense is gearing up to vigorously oppose his latest scheme. As we analyze the initiative and calculate the harmful impact it would have on our state, we'll have more to say. For now, know that we are deeply committed to burying this vile plan to wreck our common wealth and our state.


Post a Comment

<< Home