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.