Scandal-plagued initiative promoter Tim Eyman is hoping voters will look past recent headlines—exposing his financial misdeeds—and support his latest ill-conceived idea: I-1366. If adopted by voters, and upheld by a court system that has already questioned the measure’s constitutionality; this initiative would decrease sales tax by 1%—resulting in a loss of billions for K-12 and other programs—unless legislators amend the constitution to 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. By lowering sales tax by one percent, 8 billion dollars in revenue would be stripped from the states operating budget over the next six years. Cuts of this magnitude would create major holes in bi-partisan funding to K-12 and higher education, health and human services, law enforcement, along with many other essential services that our communities depend on. With the State Supreme Court making clear that K-12 is already underfunded—a reality parents see every day—losing additional resources makes kids the real victims of Eyman’s I-1366.
I-1366 also creates an unfair hurdle to tax reform. Eyman seeks to require a super-majority vote in order to adjust taxes. Though a supermajority vote has been enacted in the past, as of 2013, the practice was declared unconstitutional. A two-thirds majority vote would reverse our state 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 instead of the many. 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attempts at making taxes more equitable for middle and low income families, or to help small businesses by replacing outdated business and occupation taxes.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 legislature and budgeting, losing both at the ballot box and in court. Similarly, I-1366 is constitutionally flawed—if it passes the legal questions alone will cost taxpayers resources better invested elsewhere. Previous rulings have already deemed the idea of a super-majority as unconstitutional, and as a result Eyman’s new efforts are to change the constitution, or allow the public to suffer an 8 billion dollar loss.
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 Initiative 1366. Let’s reject this false choice and take positive steps to make our government more accountable, fair, and focused.