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, October 28, 2009

Entering the home stretch: Less than a week left to defeat Tim Eyman's I-1033

November 3rd sure doesn't look so far away anymore.

After a long summer and a busy autumn, the deadline for turning in ballots is coming up fast, and the campaign against Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 is entering its final days. The coalition has launched a new television ad, featuring economist Jim Timmons, which focuses on the harm Initiative 1033 would inflict on essential public services and our state's credit rating.

Meanwhile, Tim Eyman and I square off in this morning's Mukilteo Beacon (Tim's hometown paper!) in dueling op-eds. Tim uses his space to repeat his usual tired talking points, whereas I took the trouble to explain how Initiative 1033 takes control of Mukilteo's destiny away from the people of Mukilteo:
Cities like Mukilteo, with large business centers, would be the hardest hit. I-1033 does not account for the cost of commercial development in a city. Instead, it pretends that inflation and population growth are the only factors that cause the costs of providing services to rise year after year.

But that is simply false. Police officers and firefighters in Mukilteo don't just patrol the residential neighborhoods in town; they're responsible for keeping the entire city and its many businesses safe.

Businesses also depend on utilities (water, sewer, electricity) to function, and, of course, roads. All of these essential services cost money, yet I-1033 pretends that they don't.

If I-1033 passes, Mukilteo can forget about any plans it has for economic development, because it would prevent the city from using revenue from new development to strengthen neighborhoods and public services.
Also this morning, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State held a press conference to denounce Initiative 1033. Speaking at the press conference was the organization's executive director Alex Hays, attorney Mike Vaska, and former King County Councilmember Louise Miller.

Joel Connelly has a report on the press conference for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (NPI has previously covered conservative/Republican opposition to I-1033 on two occasions). The letter states, in part:
Initiative 1033 proposes an unreasonable and unworkable limit that punishes local governments, locks in funding cuts for law enforcement, schools and other important services, and weakens the ability of our communities to invest in projects that would help attract or retain jobs in our state.

We ask that you vote No on Initiative 1033 and reject Tim Eyman's ill conceived and unreasonable proposal that will make already tough times worse in our state and our communities.
Notable signatories to the letter include former governor Dan Evans, former Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, former Senator Slade Gorton, Pierce County Councilmember Shawn Bunney, Western Wireless founder John Stanton, former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay, Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, and over a dozen locally elected Republicans serving at the city and county level.

In other news, Washington universities and colleges are becoming increasingly concerned about what could happen if Initiative 1033 passes. Writing in Western Washington University's newsletter, President Bruce Shepard addresses the challenges Western will have to deal with if I-1033 passes:
Our current biennial operating budget plan reflects a 28.8 percent funding reduction in maintenance-level state support – or $44 million – that is only partially offset by one-time federal stimulus dollars and tuition increases. During this biennium, state support for Western operations – which in past decades had been as high as 72 percent per year – for the first time falls below 50 percent threshold to 43 percent.

If I-1033 passes, and some recent polls show a majority of voters favoring the measure, then Western will have to deal with funding limits based on state revenues received during the worst recession in a half century. The hope has been, as the state economy recovers, that some of the funding slashed from our operating budget will be restored during better times. That will not happen, especially if state expenditures are essentially frozen at lower recessionary levels.

And since much of the state budget is mandated, such as K-12 education and Medicaid funding, higher education – which has been described as the state’s “credit card” – could see even more disproportionately severe future budget cuts. As the state’s funding to our budget remains stagnant, while many of our expenses rise, continuing hefty increases in tuition may become an unpleasant regular byproduct.
It's a certainty that tuition will skyrocket if Initiative 1033 goes into effect, no matter what Tim Eyman says. Money doesn't grow on trees.

If the state can't even fulfill its constitutional, paramount duty to fund K-12 education and the criminal justice system, colleges and universities will see the state's contribution to their budgets drop to almost nothing.


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