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, March 22nd, 2017

Tim Eyman vigorously endorses Senate Republican budget that raises property taxes

Sounding very much like a spokesman for top Republican Senator Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, Tim Eyman this morning sent out an email offering a ringing, fervent endorsement of the Senate Republicans’ proposed budget for 2017-2019, which would increase property taxes on many Washingtonians.

“Here’s how my day went yesterday: drove to and from Olympia through horrendous traffic both ways, testified at a 1:30 pm hearing where I spoke out against a horrible anti-taxpayer bill, sat in on and listened to Governor Jay Inslee’s hysterical press conference, and then testified at a 3:30 pm hearing in favor of Senate Republican’s no-new-taxes budget (which I said earned an A+ on the taxpayers report card),” Eyman wrote in an email to his followers.

After heaping scorn on Governor Jay Inslee’s bold and excellent ideas for revamping our upside down tax code, Eyman reemphasized his endorsement: “The Senate Republicans have proposed a sustainable $43 billion budget that doesn’t unilaterally impose tax increases. That’s a serious budget.”

No, it’s a scam.

I’ve been organizing opposition to Tim Eyman initiatives for over fifteen years. I can’t remember Tim Eyman ever endorsing a multibillion dollar tax increase.

But I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Last month, Eyman offered a tacit endorsement of this scheme; now he’s offering an overt one. Perhaps he’s feeling less ashamed at having sold out.

What Senate Republicans are trying to do here is truly shameful. They want to raise the property taxes of Washingtonians who are primarily represented by Democrats, while lowering them on Washingtonians they represent. That way, they can falsely claim to have addressed the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision while having secured a reduction in property taxes for their own constituents at the same time.

Our public schools would remain underfunded, while property owners in urban and suburban school districts would be required to pay more in property taxes. The Republicans’ “plan” is a giant, self-serving wealth transfer.

It wasn’t that long ago that Tim Eyman was calling foul on this very idea.

As I noted in a post last month, back in April of 2015, Tim Eyman was loudly excoriating the Senate Republicans for proposing a similar property tax levy swipe, and calling on Governor Inslee to save the day. Here’s what Eyman said then:

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?

That email was written Tuesday, April 23rd, 2015 — almost exactly twenty-three months ago. Here we are in 2017, and Tim Eyman is cheering on the levy swipe scheme he once called a massive property tax hike. Why? I think it’s because Eyman reached an understanding with the Senate Republicans.

His deal with them may be a consequence of the disintegration of his initiative factory. Eyman craves relevance, but his base of donors continues to shrink, and he’s been unable to get any of the initiatives he’s recently proposed off the ground.

Meanwhile, he remains under investigation by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office for serious, flagrant public disclosure law violations. Ferguson’s office is also suing him and his committees over an array of additional violations.

Eyman has slowly been transitioning from initiative pitchman to Olympia lobbyist; he makes regular appearances in front of House and Senate committees, testifying in support of or opposition to legislation he’s interested in. However, he has not registered as a lobbyist, even though lobbying is arguably now his occupation.

Each side benefits from the new arrangement. Eyman is now inside the Senate Republicans’ tent and repeating the party line, which means Republicans don’t have to worry about him undermining their schemes at inopportune moments.

For Eyman, an alliance with the Senate Republicans means he’s less alone in difficult times. (Eyman made a big show of distributing photos depicting him with members of the Senate Republican caucus back in the winter.)

Eyman’s latest initiative, I-1550, would ironically cut property tax revenue by 25%. Passage of I-1550 would devastate the vital public services we all rely on and ruin whatever budget the Legislature and Governor Inslee eventually agree on.

Eyman announced I-1550 weeks ago, but so far it appears to be just another one of his recent crop of fake initiatives — meaning an initiative he’s pretending to try to qualify so he has an excuse to send out twice-weekly fundraising emails.

Senate Republicans likely know that Eyman’s fundraising has dried up and thus are unconcerned about I-1550 or its potential impacts. They figure an aging Eyman still makes a good attack dog. And the desperate, disgraced initiative promoter has decided to embrace the role they want him to have.

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