Opinion

I-960 makes it harder to raise taxes

Well, what now? I asked Tim Eyman, when he called me after he got word from the Secretary of States office that the signatures he turned in for Initiative 960 added up to 314,504.
His previous initiative, as I recall, was tossed out because he had insufficient signatures, which he disputed, but thats the way it turned out. The requirement for validation of an initiative is 8 percent of the votes cast for the office of governor in the most recent election, which currently is 224,880.
Eyman took no chances this time, amassing what he reported as 314,566. What happened to the unacknowledged 62 votes I dont know. Maybe they got the King County elections office to help them count.
Its very exciting! he said. I just think the opponents of I-960 are in disarray, I think theyre shell shocked. Their campaign strategy was to get a judge to interfere with the initiative process by taking it off the ballot. Instead, she yanked the rug out from under them by ruling the people had a right to vote and she wasnt going to take that away.
Now they have to convince the voters.
I-960, in case youve forgotten, requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate or voter approval for all tax increases. New or increased fees require legislative approval. If the Legislature uses an emergency clause which shortstops a referendum and keeps a bill off the ballot it still must have an advisory vote from the people. The state budget office would be required to do a 10-year cost projection on tax and fee increases and inform the voters on hearing dates, Legislative votes and how to contact sponsors.
Yes, it is a bit complicated, but its intent is to close loopholes in I-601, passed 13 years ago setting spending limitations and which lawmakers have found ways to get around by claiming expenses are off budget so dont count as a violation of those limitations. The main thing to remember about I-960 is that it does make it harder to raise taxes.
Taxpayers worked hard to earn their money so it ought to be really hard for the government to take it away from them, Eyman said. The opponents say it takes away their flexibility. Well, their flexibility is lawbreaking, saying spending is outside the General Fund. They are violating the law by shifting money among accounts so they can spend the same money twice. Under I-960, you can only spend it once.
Who exactly are these opponents? Im sure the Legislature is at the head of the list, since Eyman is invading its turf in requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. I also usually see the name of Christian Sinderman in news stories as a spokesman for the campaign against 1-960, just as he has been for some previous Eyman initiatives.
Sinderman is the official consultant for the House Democratic caucus and has worked for Gov. Christine Gregoire, Sen. Maria Cantwell and numerous greenie organizations, labor unions, Indian tribes, etc. Liberals all.
I havent seen any campaign against I-960 by the press yet but I expect it. The press in general is disinclined to support initiatives, although it fully supports the right of initiative. Most editors supported the initiative for performance audits which the Legislature had opposed for many years. Unfortunately, the media out here on the Left Coast, is not disinclined toward tax increases and big government.
At the pace taxes and employee salaries are being raised by governments, I think its a good thing to make it tougher to increase taxes where we can. Some of my property tripled in value this year for tax purposes. My income did not. I will vote for I-960.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 93340.

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