From the Kitsap Sun, Oct. 11, 2015
Tim Eyman’s latest ill-conceived idea, I-1366, is an attempt to force the Legislature — and therefore the state — into choosing between two disastrous options. If I-1366 is adopted, the initiative would decrease state revenue by $8 billion over six years, resulting in a loss of billions for K-12 education and other programs — unless legislators send to voters a Constitution amendment that would require a two-thirds supermajority to adjust taxes and fees.
In simple terms, Eyman is holding the Legislature hostage — allowing a 17-member minority (of 147) to dictate budget decisions, or face billions in cuts. We could see $8 billion in revenue stripped from the state’s operating budget over six years. Cuts of this magnitude would create major holes in bipartisan efforts to fund K-12 and higher education, health and human services, law enforcement, along with many other essential services that our communities depend on. The state Supreme Court saw what parents see every day, that K-12 is already desperately underfunded, and is holding the Legislature in contempt of court for its failure to find adequate funding. Losing billions in resource makes our kids the real victims of Eyman’s I-1366.
I-1366 also creates an unfair hurdle to tax reform. Eyman seeks to require a supermajority vote to adjust taxes and close loopholes for wealthy corporations. A two-thirds majority vote would reverse the Legislature’s tradition of majority rule, and transfer control over the outcome of decisions on raising or recovering revenue into the hands of a few. I-1366 would prevent changes to our state’s regressive tax system and allow extremists from either party to block attempts at making taxes more equitable for middle- and low-income families, or to help small businesses by replacing outdated business and occupation taxes.
This is not a new idea: Eyman has tried and failed with several initiatives to force changes to our legislative process and budgeting, losing at the ballot box and in court. Similarly, I-1366 is constitutionally flawed — if it is approved by the voters, the legal question alone will cost taxpayer resources better invested elsewhere. Previous rulings have already deemed the idea of a supermajority as unconstitutional, and as a result Eyman’s new efforts are to change the Constitution or allow the public to suffer an $8 billion loss. Initiative promoter Eyman is hoping voters will look past recent headlines that exposed his financial misdeeds and support his latest ill-conceived idea.
I-1366 is politics at its worst — a profit-making scheme for Eyman that undermines our Constitution and threatens hard-won gains for our kids and communities. Voters should send a clear message that enough is enough, and join the bipartisan coalition opposing I-1366. Let’s reject this false choice and take positive steps to make our government more accountable, fair and focused.
Myra Howrey is president of the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County.
Copyright 2015 Journal