Yesterday morning, at the Washington Conservation Voters’ annual Breakfast of Champions in Seattle, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee took aim at Tim Eyman and his initiative factory, calling for the rejection of Eyman’s latest scheme, I‑1125, and declaring, “It’s time to start building bridges instead of funding Tim Eyman’s bank account.”
His speech, which was very well-received (and expressed sentiments that we at NPI strongly agree with) evidently touched a nerve, because Tim Eyman fired back only a few hours later with a condescending reply. It began as follows:
Washington DC Congressman Inslee needs to understand that it is the voters who are approving our initiatives. Last year’s Initiative 1053 passed with 64% of the vote. It was the 4th time voters approved its’ tougher-to-raise-taxes policies. If you don’t like voters, you’re in the wrong profession. This year’s Initiative 1125 closes a multi-billion-dollar loophole the Legislature put in last year’s I‑1053, ensuring that transportation taxes and tolls comply with I‑1053′s provisions and the 18th Amendment to our state Constitution.
Only Tim Eyman can pack so much misinformation into one paragraph.
First of all, Jay Inslee represents Washington’s 1st Congressional District — he does not represent the District of Columbia. Yes, he works there, but his home is here in the real Washington, and it has always been. Eyman would no doubt like voters to think that Inslee is a transplant or something, but that’s not true — Inslee is a native Washingtonian who knows his state very well.
Considering that Jay has been elected to Congress a total of eight times, and lost a congressional reelection bid only once, Eyman’s retort, “if you don’t like voters, you’re in the wrong profession” is downright silly. What’s more, Jay Inslee has won more elections during his involvement in politics than Tim Eyman has. Obviously, voters like him, and public service is a calling he finds rewarding.
We have previously pointed out that Tim Eyman has a double standard as far as respecting the will of the voters goes. I‑1125 includes a provision intended to prevent WSDOT from transferring part of the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge to Sound Transit for East Link light rail, even though voters overwhelmingly approved East Link as part of the Sound Transit 2 package in 2008.
So, Tim Eyman doesn’t like voters when they don’t agree with him. In his eyes, the Sound Transit 2 vote doesn’t matter… it never happened. By his logic, he must be in the wrong profession! We certainly wouldn’t object if he shut down his initiative factory and went back to selling fraternity wristwatches.
As for Initiative 1053, it was not the fourth time voters approved a measure unconstitutionally imposing a two-thirds requirement to raise taxes. There were two similar measures before that: Initiative 601 in 1993, and Eyman’s Initiative 960 in 2007. Both of those measures passed only narrowly with about 51% of the vote in odd-years (when turnout was lower). There was no fourth vote.
Eyman has claimed that Referendum 49 in 1998 was the fourth vote. But Referendum 49 did not concern imposing or re-imposing a two-thirds requirement to raise taxes. Read the ballot title for yourself:
Shall motor vehicle excise taxes be reduced and state revenues reallocated; $1.9 billion in bonds for state and local highways approved; and spending limits modified?
Eyman’s assertion that “I‑1125 closes a multi-billion-dollar loophole the Legislature put in last year’s I‑1053” is also puzzling.
The Legislature did not sponsor I‑1053 — Eyman did. The Legislature did not draft I‑1053 — Eyman and his pals at John Groen’s law firm did. Since I‑1053 went into effect, it has not been amended by the Legislature. So how, exactly is it the Legislature’s fault that I‑1053 is not destructive enough?
Eyman apparently dislikes the Legislature so much, he even blames that institution for his own mistakes. The Legislature is, without question, his go-to scapegoat. (It wouldn’t surprise me if Eyman’s initial response when an appliance breaks inside his home is to blame the Legislature.)
Eyman is very fond of citing the 18th Amendment to Washington State’s Constitution — as far as we can tell, Eyman seems to think that provision, and the provisions concerning initiatives, are the extent of the document!
The 18th Amendment, which is found in Article II of the Constitution (as Section 40) says that license fees on motor vehicles, and taxes on sales of motor vehicle fuel, shall be spent exclusively on “highway purposes”, which are then defined. Tolls are not mentioned in Section 40.
Even if Section 40 did mention tolling along with fuel taxes and license fees, the Legislature’s specific plan to use tolls and toll-backed bonds to pay for the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge would still be perfectly constitutional.
But, since tolls are not mentioned, the Legislature has the freedom to dedicate toll revenues from a particular facility to transit, or to projects that improve mobility for bicyclists and pedestrians, if it wishes. Tim Eyman, of course, can’t stand the idea that tolls might go to help improve transportation options for everybody.
Regardless, the Legislature’s plans to toll SR 520 are legally sound… they do not run afoul of the 18th Amendment. If there was a case to be made that they did, our courts would be trying to resolve a pretty high-profile dispute right now.
While we’re on the subject of the Constitution and lawsuits that seek to uphold our Constitution, it is worth noting that three of the seven Tim Eyman initiatives that have been passed by voters have been thrown out by the state Supreme Court as unconstitutional. One of those, I‑747, was written by Tim Eyman’s friend Rob McKenna, our current attorney general and Jay Inslee’s opponent in 2012.
There is also a lawsuit in progress that seeks to have I‑1053 declared unconstitutional (I‑1053, like its predecessors, violates Article II, Section 22 of the Constitution, which says that bills shall pass by majority vote).
If Tim Eyman really cared about honoring our Constitution, he wouldn’t routinely sponsor initiatives that blatantly violate its provisions. Our founders gave us a plan of government that they thought would serve us well. Tim Eyman has done everything he can to undermine and attack the system that they gave us.
This autumn, please join NPI in saying NO to yet another destructive Tim Eyman initiative. Vote NO on I‑1125 and keep our roads safe.
At the moment I’m a “no” vote on I‑1125, because of the utility of road use fees (tolls) with off-peak discounts as an important transportation funding mechanism that will raise needed construction, operations, and maintenance money as more and more cars and buses run on electricity instead of petroleum.
I am also an opponent of extending light rail across Lake Washington on I‑90 HOV lanes, but there are multiple opportunities remaining for that neighborhood-destroying, money-burning monstrosity to go away besides passage of I‑1125. Project approval by the U.S. Government is still pending.
Besides, I’ve received a report of Sound Transit’s claim that approval of I‑1125 won’t be able to stop light rail on the floating bridge. Sound Transit has a lot of money for legal battles, hires strong lawyers, and so far has won most of its lawsuits.
But here’s some unreported news that’s old but pertinent: Your claim that “voters overwhelmingly approved East Link as part of the Sound Transit 2 package in 2008” should note that the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) detailing this project was entirely completed in the years and months prior to that November 4, 2008 election, but was held back from release until December 12, 2008 after the Prop 1 election. That way Sound Transit was able to let the Mass Transit Now campaign misrepresentations dominate the debate rather than revealing the facts of that project’s expected performance: East Link consumes more than $3,000,000,000 for just 10,000 additional regional daily public transit riders. Read the East Link EIS. Do the arithmetic.
About 80% of the claimed forecast of 50,000 daily light rail riders are customers who would switch from express buses that could be made to run faster for a lot less than three billion dollars, and a lot sooner than the schedule for East Link completion in 2023. Multiple bus routes attract more transit riders than pokey little trains that stop at a relatively few stations on one route.
Ironically, Sound Transit’s management is probably smiling inwardly at the prospect of I‑1125 winning and pushing back on network tolling with off-peak discounts. This kind of future road use fee reduces the relevance of a rail network, because the roads — and buses — will likely work much better than we see on unpriced roads. The first test of this would be the express bus lines across the new SR 520 toll bridge, which won’t work as well with flat-rate tolling.
PSRC’s T‑2040 Plan computer modeling of the regional transportation network in 2040 — with all expressways in the central Puget Sound region tolled in peak periods during the 2030s — cuts regional expressway congestion 32% from 2006 levels and slashes Sound Transit’s projections for rail ridership in half from 2030 to 2040. You can look it up.
I am voting YES on 1125 for many reasons. First, it’s not fair for the poor to have to pay more during peak hours (i.e. 6am-9am and 3pm-6pm). 1125 will ban peak time tolling.
Is it really fair for the poor, who cannot afford tolls, to exit the freeway during commute hours, and drive on clogged surface streets?
Their commutes will be longer, and they will get bad gas mileage, and pay more for gasoline, traveling at gridlock speeds during non commute hours.
Look at Dr. Peter Gordon’s study of variable tolling in Los Angeles. Surface street congestion increased with peak time tolls. Cars emit more CO2 and other pollutants at lower speeds. Google the research of Dr. Matthew Barth and CO2 levels with vehicular speeds.
This inconsistency among wealthy transportation planners such as John Niles, and their disregard for the poor, is unconscionable. Nobody is a progressive if they favor peak time tolls.
Bruce Nurse, Kemper’s VP, on the TV‑W video with Tim Eyman, said that he doesn’t think it’s fair for the poor to pay more during commute hours. And, I am sure that Mr. Nurse as Kemper’s VP, is a very wealthy man. At least Bruce Nurse has a heart.
Indeed, it was Frank Lloyd Wright, another rich conservative, who also had a heart, favoring expansion of free public highways way out into the countryside, to help the poor move out of crowded towers, and have their own homes on one acre properties.
While I support bus rapid transit as a much more efficient alternative to light rail, I am disappointed in Mr. Niles that he does not understand that the poor cannot afford all these tolls. Is Mr. Niles also voting YES on proposition 1 for $60 car tabs? How does Mr. Niles expect the poor to travel across Lake Washington to work if all the bridges have $8 tolls, when they’re making $8 an hour?
If you are a true progressive who cares about the poor, you vote YES on 1125, and NO on Prop. 1. All local Religious leaders reading this know this, and that is how they are voting.
I’m a “no” vote on Seattle Prop 1 for $60 car tabs, partially because I am not a “wealthy transportation planner!”
Also, City of Seattle’s focus on street railroads as part of Prop 1 is foolish public transit spending when we have a pretty good King County Metro bus system that could be made to work better if it weren’t for money going to urban street railroads like Central Link Light Rail and the South Lake Union Trolley.
Changing topics, on SR 520 tolling the U.S. DOT pushed back hard on the social equity issues — hurting poor people — with the planned tolling, and the Washington State DOT responded with a letter to Federal Highways dated April 14 from Secretary Hammond buried in Attachment 8, Part 1 of the Final EIS for the SR 520 project.
I’ve extracted that letter from deep in the WSDOT website and just posted it as the new first item on the Public Interest Transportation Forum resource page at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/resourcelinks.htm.
I’m satisfied that the measures taken by authorities as listed in that letter sufficiently mitigate effects of the SR 520 tolls on lower income folks, enough to proceed with the pre-construction variable tolls on SR 520 as planned.
The planned tolling of SR 520 is a useful first attempt to show how road use fees with off-peak discounts can work to “fight congestion now” the marketing phrase developed by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta when he started the Urban Partnership Program that was the genesis for the SR 520 pre-construction tolling program.
If I‑1125 wins, I hope it won’t screw up this useful demonstration of road pricing.
In my view variable peak time tolls will send drivers — both poor and rich — to the slower sides streets. Dr. Peter Gordon of USC showed that this would increase congestion. And, of course, this means more air pollution since cars at lower speeds generate more air pollution and get worse mileage. So I am against variable tolls and will vote yes on 1125, and would vote no on Prop. 1 if I didn’t live way out in the suburbs.
And if I‑1125 passes, just where will the funds for operational expenses and repairs come in? I have seen this first-hand in our rural community. We build elaborate road projects; all the money is spent on paying engineers and building (often above-budget, often in inferior ways, on wetlands — the roads sink — etc.) and then — oops! — nothing left for operational costs! I plan to vote no on 1125 and to spread the word about it to everyone I know.
I won’t neglect to educate people on Tim Eyman’s sordid past and single handed efforts to bankrupt Washington State either.
[…] Tim Eyman tries to hit back at Jay Inslee after Inslee urges Washington to vote down I‑1125 […]
[…] his positions on all three of Washington’s 2011 statewide initiatives this afternoon, after earlier taking a strong stand on one of them (Tim Eyman’s I‑1125) at the Washington Conservation Voters’ Breakfast of Champions earlier this […]