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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Tim Eyman offers tacit backing of Republican levy swipe scheme he once opposed

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman today revealed midway through an email to his followers that he’s on board with Washington State Senate Republicans’ plan to swipe property tax school levy dollars from urban and suburban school districts and send them to rural school districts they happen to represent.

After shaking his fist at the Senate Democratic caucus for refusing to capitulate to his demands to subvert the Constitution and impose restrictions on raising revenue, Eyman went after them for not supporting the Republicans’ levy swipe scheme:

A few weeks ago, these same 19 Democrats also voted against the Republicans’ education plan which lets the voters decide on a reform package that reduces property taxes for 80% of property owners.

So not only have these 19 Democrat [sic] senators voted to make it easier to raise taxes, they’ve also voted against reducing property taxes. Seattle already has 5 Senators, they don’t deserve 19 more.

(There are currently twenty-four members of the Senate Democratic caucus; Eyman is singling out the nineteen members who represent legislative districts outside of Seattle, because Seattle voters never support his initiatives.)

Considering that many of the Senate’s twenty-four Democratic senators represent school districts where property taxes would be increasing under the Senate Republicans’ SSB 5607, it’s particularly absurd for Eyman to be claiming they voted against reducing property taxes. That’s a whopper of a falsehood.

The Senate Republicans’ 2017 levy swipe scheme is a scam of epic proportions, much like Tim’s initiatives. It would result in less money going to schools overall, and it would transfer tax obligations away from rural property owners while increasing the obligations of urban and suburban property owners. It’s bad all around.

It is important to understand Washington would not end up with a fairer tax code as a result of this. Instead, the tax code would become even more unbalanced.

Senate Republicans admit their levy swipe scheme would mean significant property tax increases for King County taxpayers. Via The Seattle Times:

State Senate Republicans have released revised numbers for their proposal to fully fund the state’s K-12 school system — and they show that many Seattle-area homeowners would see a big property-tax increase. The average homeowner in the Seattle School District would pay $628 more in property taxes in 2019, according to the revised numbers in the plan. And in 2021, the new GOP data show the increase to an average Seattle homeowner reaching $686.

Neighboring suburban districts would see big increases too:

In 2019, the average home­owner in the Mercer Island School District would see an increase of $1,302 in property taxes — rising to $1,430 in 2021. In the Lake Washington School District, the average homeowner would see a property-tax hike in 2019 of $576 — rising to $648 in 2021.

The Mukilteo School District, which Eyman pays property taxes to, is among those districts that would see an increase, although its increase would be much smaller than the aforementioned districts in King County — $19 in 2019 and $84 in 2021.

Two years ago, when Republicans proposed a similar levy swipe scheme, Eyman came out swinging… at them. In an email authored Tuesday, April 23rd, 2015, he appealed to Governor Jay Inslee to put the kibosh on their scheme:

RE: Senate Republicans propose massive property tax hike — will Inslee save the day?

Candidate Inslee ridiculed the so-called “property tax levy swap.” He repeatedly called it a “gimmick”. He said it was “a classic maneuver by politicians in Olympia.” He said it was a “shell game” that raised taxes on nearly half of all property tax payers. He tore into it with vigor and verve. He was emphatic. He was unambiguous.

The people elected a man who adamantly opposed this.

Will Governor Inslee come riding to the rescue when it comes to the Senate Republicans’ bill (Senate Bill 6109) which does exactly what he ridiculed? In today’s Tacoma News Tribune, they report the Republicans’ bill “would raise property taxes in more than 40 percent of Washington’s school districts.”

Inslee despised it as a candidate, will he stop it as Governor? Can we count on him to protect us from this massive property tax hike?

Senate Bill 6109 received a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee on April 17th, a week prior to the email quoted above. It never made it any further than that. But the idea did not die. Senate Republicans recycled it and made it the centerpiece of the education bill they passed out of the Senate earlier this month.

Tim Eyman was unequivocally opposed to Senate Republicans’ levy swipe scheme just two years ago. Now he’s tacitly endorsing the newest incarnation of it and blasting Democratic senators for voting against it on the Senate floor.

What gives? Hypocrisy is nothing new for Eyman, to be sure, but how can he be okay with SSB 5607 when it raises property taxes on suburban homeowners like himself? If there’s one thing that we know Eyman absolutely detests, it’s having to pay more in taxes to support our vital public services.

It sure seems like Eyman and the Senate Republicans have reached some kind of understanding, because Eyman has forsaken his supposed principles to march in lockstep with Senate Republicans, and they been willingly associating with him, even though he’s under investigation for serious public disclosure law violations.

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