Election 2010: Initiative 1053 ‘is undemocratic, unwise and unfair’

Publisher’s note: This week, Edmonds voters will receive in the mail their ballots for the Nov. 2 general election. My Edmonds News sent requests to both proponents and opponents of the most visible citizen initiative campaigns, asking them to supply a written statement, if possible authored by someone from Edmonds. Here is the first of those, written by Edmonds restaurant owner Michael Young, in opposition to Initiative 1053, a Tim Eyman-sponsored initiative that would reinstate existing statutory requirements passed by voters in 2007 through Initiative 960. If approved, I-1053 would require that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees also require majority legislative approval.

By Michael A. Young

We all know that the economy is struggling and that families are working hard to make ends meet. People are mad at the legislature, mad at government, and some think that I-1053 is an easy answer.

The truth is that Initiative 1053 is undemocratic, unwise and unfair.

We don’t have to look very far to see the effects of I-1053’s bad policy. California has a similar two-thirds (2/3) requirement and it has caused nothing but partisan gridlock. In fact, California has been stuck in budget gridlock for months. We don’t want that to happen here.

A two-thirds requirement flips democracy on its head by letting a small, partisan minority block the majority from taking action – that’s undemocratic and it’s unfair. A two-thirds requirement changes the rules of the game. Imagine if the Seahawks were ahead by a touchdown, but the referee said they didn’t win by enough and gave the game to the other side. That’s what 1053 would do.

Tim Eyman claims that this, his latest in a long line of initiatives, will force collaboration and government reform. The truth is that I-1053 isn’t about reforming government, it’s about strangling government by putting a small, partisan minority in control of our entire state budget.

The single most important number for you to know about Initiative 1053 is 17.

This initiative is not really about taxes at all. It’s about the number 17.

I-1053 is specifically, carefully and confusingly designed to give just 17 out of a total of 147 legislators the extraordinary power to stop the majority from investing in education and health care.

Under this initiative, just 17 extremely partisan legislators – on the far left or the far right – can control our entire state budget. That means that your representative is unlikely to have any say at all.

I-1053 would alter the very basis of our democracy.

And what for? So that big, out-of-state corporations can keep their tax loopholes and giveaways.

I-1053 isn’t just a Tim Eyman initiative, it’s a Big Oil initiative. Four of the largest oil companies in the world – BP, Shell, Conoco, Tesoro – are also four of the major funders behind I-1053.

Last year, the legislature tried to impose a $1.50 tax on oil companies to pay for the clean up of oil runoff that was leaking into Puget Sound. Big Oil didn’t like that, and they’re determined to make sure it never happens again. By putting their big money behind I-1053, Big Oil can prevent the legislature from ever closing any tax loopholes or putting any fees on hazardous substances. I-1053 is good for Big Oil, but bad for you.

Other tax loopholes include breaks for plastic surgery, for private jet owners, and for out-of-state banks. Under 1053, we wouldn’t be able to close any of these loopholes. The result is tax breaks for big corporations, but broke schools and fewer healthcare services for you.

By changing the rules of democracy, I-1053 makes it nearly impossible for the legislature to invest in education, health care, and other services that we all value – even when the economy gets better.

No matter what your politics, Democrat, Republican or Independent, take a moment to think about what democracy means – it means majority rules. Democracy means that special interests like Big Oil shouldn’t get to buy an election in order to keep their tax loopholes.

Firefighters, teachers, nurses, seniors, the American Cancer Society, the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the League of Women Voters of Washington, the AARP, the Children’s Alliance, the Washington Association of Churches, Equal Rights Washington, Washington Conservation Voters, the Minority Executive Directors Coalition, the Washington State Public Health Association and many more have joined together to help stop I-1053 and protect Washington families against the onslaught of special interests.

In our democracy, voters should – by majority rules – vote NO on 1053.

For more information:
Yes on 1053
No on 1053

  1. Initiative 1053 is actually unconstitutional. The Washington State Constitution says that the Legislature shall enact legislation by a majority vote. Check out Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution. You can not amend the State Constitution by initiative.

    As written above, the Initaitive 1053 is an attempt for a minority of Legislators to have more power than the majority. What the corporations were not able to do at the ballot box in electing enough Legislators to do their bidding, they are trying to do by fooling people into somehow thinking this will result in fewer taxes.

    Unfortunately if you do not tax the corporations to cleanup their toxic waste, we will have to pay for cleaning it up or suffering the consequences of the pollution. Meanwhile corporations like BP and Tesero pocket the profits leaving the rest of us the bill to clean up after them. What a deal for them. Vote NO on 1098. Make them pay to clean up their pollution.

  2. Steve Zemke:

    This article is about Initiative 1053, but at the end of your comment you say “Vote NO on 1098”. I’m sure just a typo, but wanted to point it out.

  3. Hate to disappoint all you constitutional law scholars but Initiative 1053 is entirely constitutional. It’s a duplicate of Initiative 960 that was previously passed by a wide margin and found by the State Supreme Court to be constitutional. Similar populous restrictions upon legislatures exist constitutionally in many other states as well.

    The people of each and every state have the right under their respective state constitutions to restrict their legislatures and amend their constitutions as they feel necessary. It is the people, not legislators, that have the final word.

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