Tim Eyman makes his case for Initiative 1033

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Tim Eyman offers no apologies for continuing to submit his famous anti-government-spending initiatives to Washington state voters, including Initiative 1033, which appears on the current election ballot.

Eyman spoke last night at a town hall meeting at Edmonds Community College, moderated by Edmonds City Council President D.J. Wilson, which was taped for the local public affairs show “Civic Engagement.” Under questioning by Wilson, Eyman equated lawmakers to wide-eyed children in a toy store. “Citizens have to take a parenting role and say no, you can’t have it all,” he said.

Tim Eyman
Tim Eyman

The official I-1033 ballot title says the measure “would limit growth of certain state, county and city revenue to annual inflation and population growth, not including voter-approved revenue increases. Revenue collected above the limit would reduce property tax levies.”

While Wilson said he was not, in his role as moderator, speaking as an opponent of I-1033, he has expressed grave concerns during recent Edmonds City Council meetings about the negative effect that the initiative could have on the City of Edmonds budget, which is already facing a $7 million shortfall. Citing a large list of organizations, from local governments to labor unions to businesses, that are opposing the initiative, Wilson asked Eyman: “Is it possible that what you are proposing is in fact wrong and is in fact devastating?”

Eyman would have none of that, stating that he is simply trying to give everyday citizens a voice in the process and a way to offset elected officials’ out-of-control spending habits. “There has to be a balance between what government says they need and what taxpayers can afford,” he said.

The long list of opponents — from Roman Catholic bishops who cite how much I-1033 will hurt the poor to teachers who worry about ever-increasing class sizes — doesn’t bother him, either:  “Groups don’t vote, individuals do,” he said. In fact, Eyman added, members of the very groups that oppose I-1033 will actually vote for it, as they are taxpayers too.

One phrase Eyman repeated several times was that “initiatives are not forever,” because officials continue to find ways to overturn them or go around them. He said that state government was in great shape from 1993-2005, thanks to another spending growth-limit initiative he sponsored, I-601, and blamed the state’s current budget deficit on the decision by legislators to get rid of I-601’s limits.

And because I-1033 allows officials to submit to voters a request for additional increases beyond what the initiative allows, Eyman says that it gives governments the option to raise taxes — as long as voters OK it first.

Many of those attending last night’s presentation appeared to be in Eyman’s camp, cheering and clapping in response to his statements.  Because no one appeared on stage to officially speak against the initiative, it was hard for the anti-1033 folks in the audience to make much of a dent in the pro-1033 arguments.

However, it appears that the 1033 opponents are gaining ground in influencing public opinion, given the changes in polling numbers — as reported on ballotpedia.org — during the past month:

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided
September 2009 Tom Kiley 51% 31% 18%
Sept. 22, 2009 Rasmussen Reports 61% 31% 8%
Oct. 3 – 5 KING5/Survey USA 45% 32% 22%
Oct. 14 – 26 Washington Poll 41% 46% 13%

D.J. Wilson has agreed to submit  — as City Council president — a summary of his thoughts on how I-1033 will affect City of Edmonds government operations, and it will be posted on My Edmonds News once it is received.

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