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Eyman’s I-1185 is a tired cliche

Post by Brian O'Neill on Oct. 25, 2012 at 9:29 am with 15 Comments »
October 25, 2012 9:30 am

Tim Eyman is not my hero.

Eyman is, of course, the consummate citizen-activist who in recent years has made it his mission to dismantle our state’s taxation system. Proponents are wildly ecstatic about his ideas, which have included legalizing slot machines, down sizing the King County Council, cutting taxes that provide general public funding, and reducing property taxes by 25%.

This time Eyman’s initiative is a reboot:  I-1185 would require a 2/3 majority for future tax increases. This initiative mirrors past attempts, such as I-1053 (2010) and I-960 (2007). While these measures passed, both were relegated to the recycle heap by the state legislature.

Eyman’s mantra might as well be, “Why not pay lower taxes?” He has displayed a talent for tapping into voters’ distrust for the politics that pervade budgetary issues. To give him his due, Eyman has brought up valid concerns, including voters’ distrust of budgetary politics. He has empowered a voting base that seeks to change the status quo. There would be much to like in this story if it stopped there.

But it doesn’t. The obvious reality is that taxes are the necessary evil which funds the engines of our society: schools, transportation, emergency health care and public safety. Many of Eyman’s initiatives, including I-1185, are a blatant attempt to remove government funding from the programs that separate a civilized society from a state of anarchy.

I have been an unwilling witness to the trickle down effects of Eyman’s initiative machine. Twice a year my former police chief would update the rank and file on the current status of our agency. The city’s tax base was always a hot topic, because it meant resources like cars, tools, and more people to handle the growing challenges of law enforcement. Extra funds propelled projects that targeted specific crimes in town.

It was in this context that I first heard Tim Eyman’s name. He was mentioned as the author of an initiative which was expected to decimate our agency’s budget. The sobering news meant we could not afford X equipment, would disband Y unit, and would lose Z number of police positions. It was not pretty.

Sure, our agency could (and did) get by with less, but it would be a lie to say that in doing so public safety was undiminished. Regardless of slogans to the contrary, having less means doing less. In a police agency it usually means investigations are re-prioritized (i.e. delayed) and patrol response times are longer.

Slicing the budget of other publicly funded entities would have similar results. The point is that finding a viable solution to revenue problems should not include voter-proof roadblocks. I-1185 is management by cliche: “Throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Let us also recognize that passing I-1185 would place all taxation decisions in the hands of 1/3 of the voting public. That is not a democratic plan.

Tim Eyman has cooked up some very creative ideas over the years. He has enjoyed a measure of success and started an important dialogue, and we should continue that conversation. The problem is that by playing to our weakness as tight-fisted taxpayers, he is taking it too far. I-1185 will impact us and our infrastructure in ways we will not like.

Penny wise and pound foolish is a bad way to vote.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. The problems with our current taxation methods within the state is that it’s just a massive patchwork of various revenue streams, some of which don’t fund the programs they were initially supposed to fund. I don’t support the initiative either, but for a different reason. The problem with a 2/3rd taxing requirements, people will vote for more spending, without providing the funding behind it. Just look at the mess california is in to get an idea of what the 2/3rds vote requirement did to it’s budget.

    The issue isn’t trying to reign in spending, it’s changing the public’s expectations of how much “free stuff” the voters vote for themselves.

  2. I’d like to see more deputies on the streets of Pierce County.
    Then the Sheriff might grin a bit. The taxation system in this
    state is bias toward sales taxes. So the governments constantly
    support meaningless consumption and materialism. I’d like to
    sit under an apple tree in a semi-forest and watch the clouds
    go by, within walking distance of my apartment of course.

  3. reformedliberal says:

    Why such contempt for the voters, Brian? Surely you know (of COURSE you know) that the voters have put this provision in place no less than 4 times, only to see it repealed by the Legislature.

    Who’s supposed to be in charge?

    We totally get that you earn your living on the public dime, Brian. Do you expect us to take your opinion on this as anything other than self-interested?

  4. Brian O'Neill says:

    You’re taking some liberties with this column, reformedliberal. If you are finding contempt anywhere, then I would suggest you are reading into it too much. As for who’s in charge, it should not be the 1/3 minority that would be calling all the shots if I-1185 were put into place.

    And self-interest? Please. If I had a dime for every time someone told me they paid my salary, I would have retired years ago.

  5. reformedliberal says:

    I’m not taking liberties, I’m removing your spin.

    Who’s supposed to be in charge of this state, Brian? Voters, that’s who.

    How many times do voters have to pass this thing before people in government realize that the people in charge want it to stay there?

    You work for the voters, Brian. Act like it.

  6. flyingdutchman says:

    Any time Tim Eyman’s name comes up attached to anything, I oppose it. The man is there for himself, not for the taxpayer. He’s there to utterly gut any and all of our infrastructure and he goes around every year trying to do the same thing. This state used to be one where our infrastructure and services were second to none and with Eyman it has become a state of “me-first” selfish myopic morons.

  7. lovethemountains says:

    I have always found it interesting to read of the dislike, even hatred, of Tim Eyman. Eyman is the whipping post and the scapegoat. Eyman does not make law. Eyman may be an egotist and love the limelight but it is the VOTERS who approve these initiatives. Unless, of course, you consider the voters to be nothing more than mindless children following the pied piper.

  8. If all the complainers of Tim Eymans action don’t appreciate his actions to lighten the taxpayers burden,then they can feel free to send their extra cash to to legislature to dole that windfall however they feel it would make the most people happy.As for myself,I usually find myself short of money after the month is over so don’t expect much help from me.

  9. Swampbuggy says:

    If you truly want change, you have that opportunity now. Replace all of those with the fresh new faces that are seeking office. the “Old School” will be replaced with “new School” thought. Be a voting citizen!

  10. The state has made it abundantly clear that they do not know how to spend our tax dollars effectively, and evidence points to the likely possibility that this is done on purpose; to line the pockets of the electorate at the expense of the tax payer, who are conned into being told “It’s not enough, we need MORE MONEY!” We the people are putting our foot down and saying “Enough is enough.” When you can’t spend money effectively, you don’t just get more and more of it to fill an ever widening hole in your budget. You go broke. You go bankrupt. In politics, you get removed from your job. Or at least that’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to work. Just like all the levies and tax increases being brought to the ballots locally, I voted to limit the ability of the government to steal more of our hard earned money at the point of a gun, simply because it is in our own best interest to do so. Until the state and local governments can show us they can spend our money effectively, we should deny them further access to it.

  11. scott0962 says:

    Tim Eyman didn’t set the budget priorities of the city when O’Niell’s police chief was briefing him on budget cuts. That decision was made by the politicians who always cut public safety first instead of making it their first funding priority in a cynical attempt to force voters to reject any measure that might limit their ability to spend money on all the other things government does but which we’re rarely asked to endorse via a levy.

  12. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks for your comments, however, dg54321 and scott0962, I do take some exception. Tim Eyman’s initiative machine resulted in our municipalities budget cuts, which did NOT start with the P.D. Instead, all “non-essentials”, the people who made the city move, got pink slips. When the budget hammer got to us, we all took a hit as well. We laid off people, lost vacant positions and all coughed up 2% of our pay. You can sugarcoat that any way you want, but from where I sat, inside the system, I watched the city infrastructure crumble.

    The point is that Eyman could choose to target public funds or inept elected officials.He chose the wrong target.

  13. blakeshouse says:

    It is never a wrong idea to take more and more from the people to distribute as the socialists see fit. They have no problem at all spending OPM. As much as possible…. Not that it does any good for the PEOPLE to approve something, if the politburo wants to keep the status quo they will by hook or crook, it keeps themin good stead with the public sector unions. They know what side their bread is buttered on so the folks end up screwed every time

  14. Brian, so we should keep funding the monster that is out of control spending because it may affect the police roster? No, I understand your self-interest in this, but it’s unfortunately not what is best for the people. Limit the politicians ability to raise taxes on a whim, then get the incumbents out of office. That is the only way sanity will return to Olympia, and by extension, our local city governments. Bloated city payrolls may be affected, but hey, that’s business 101….when you don’t have the money to spend, you don’t spend it. You don’t keep getting a pay increase from your employer (we the people) to fund your ever increasing waistline.

  15. Brian O'Neill says:

    You make a fair point, if out of control spending were a municipal, county or state issue. Unlike the bloated federal budget, these smaller entities have to balance their books at the end of the year. With minimal exceptions, i.e. bonds, the money that comes in must pay for the services that go out.

    The result of this local belt-tightening is something I have witnessed first hand. Libraries are closed, and others operate at ridiculously reduced hours; streets go unpaved; there are lengthy and costly delays for permits due to the skeleton staff holding down the fort; and yes, cops and firefighters are spread thin. This last point is not only dangerous for the public, but for the public safety workers as well.

    From my perspective, the consequences are undesirable.

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