NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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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