Eye On Olympia

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2008, 10:04 A.M.

Eyman floats a trial balloon: refunding any new taxes over 1 percent a year…

The initiative factory run by Tim Eyman, Jack Fagan and Mike Fagan has turned out a new prototype: a tax refund program that -- unless voters say otherwise -- would permanently hold state, city and county governments to growing less than the rate of inflation.

The sure-winner title of the proposed initiative: the "Refund Excess Taxes Initiative."

But what would those "excess taxes" be? The measure, which has no number, would let the state and local government keep only 1 percent more general-fund revenue each year. Anything above that -- again, unless voters agree to more -- would be refunded.

To put that in perspective, the rate of inflation averages around 3 percent and this year looks like it will end up north of 4 percent. The last time U.S. inflation was below 1 percent was 1955.)

Interestingly, only registered voters could get the refunds, a provision that would exclude many former criminals, legal immigrants, illegal immigrants and people who don't vote for religious or other reasons. And the refunds wouldn't be based on how much "excess" tax you paid -- it would simply take the total dollars, divide by the number of voters, and cut equal checks for everybody.

Also, this post comes with a caveat: it is common for Eyman to file multiple initiatives each year to test the waters and hone the legalese, then pick just one or two to actually try to get passed. So stay tuned.




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