October 18, 2009 in Opinion

I-1033 pro: Limiting government revenue growth, unless voters approve

Pro: Restore stability, taxpayer control to government’s fiscal roller coaster ride
Tim Eyman Special to The Spokesman-Review
 

About the author

Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo, Wash.,

is a co-sponsor of I-1033.

Despite newspapers like The Spokesman-Review lobbying for and getting a massive taxpayer-financed bailout from Olympia this year, they don’t recognize that average taxpayers are hurting too.

And the worst thing government can do right now is raise taxes because that’ll just make the recession last longer. That’s why Gov. Chris Gregoire’s recent “revenue-raising” agenda makes Initiative 1033 especially necessary. I-1033 protects taxpayers and our struggling economy by making sure that state, county and city politicians cannot take more of our money unless voters approve. With I-1033, instead of constantly trying to maximize revenue – taking more of our money with higher taxes, increased fees or jacked-up property assessments – politicians will have to spend their time maximizing the effectiveness of existing revenue. And “more revenue” will only be a last resort and only with voter approval.

After getting I-1033’s automatic increase every year, if government thinks that I-1033’s increase isn’t a big enough increase, they can go to the people and ask for more.

Eight years ago, during tough economic times and just six weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Initiative 747 was on the ballot. It proposed a 1 percent cap on the growth of a lot of the revenue for the state, counties, cities, ports, fire districts, library districts, public utility districts and other local governments (it specifically excluded school districts). I-747 had a safety valve: If government wanted more than 1 percent, they could go to the voters and ask for more.

At the time, Big Business, Big Labor, politicians and the press went ballistic – they said it’d be “devastating” and “impossible.” A massive list of opponents said it was a bad time for fiscal discipline and predicted catastrophe and chaos.

Nonetheless, voters approved I-747 by a huge 58-42 percent margin. Since 2001, governments have adapted to the 1 percent limit.

It wasn’t “impossible” – it is now the new normal.

Governments have repeatedly proved that they’re much more flexible and adaptable than they’re willing to admit. Pre-election scare tactics never match up with post-election reality.

What’s being said about I-1033 is the same stuff that was said about I-747, but instead of a 1 percent automatic increase, I-1033 provides a much higher automatic increase: inflation-and-population growth. And I-1033 has the same safety valve: If government wants more than I-1033’s automatic increase, they can go to the voters and ask for an even bigger increase.

After voters approved I-601 in 1993, government lived under this same limit through 2005, growing at a stable, sustainable rate. But in 2005, that reasonable limit was repealed, leading to a four-year fiscal roller coaster, ending with a $9 billion deficit. I-1033 brings back I-601’s growth limit that worked effectively for 12 years.

Opponents want higher taxes and a state income tax. Opponents are against any limit on government’s power to take as much as they want from the taxpayers.

Property taxes keep going higher and higher and government keeps getting bigger and bigger. The people are losing control. I-1033 allows the state, counties and cities to grow, but at a rate that citizens can control and taxpayers can afford. I-1033 gets government off the fiscal roller coaster, allowing it to grow at a sustainable rate that doesn’t outpace taxpayers’ ability to afford it.

Remember, under I-1033, politicians can’t raise your taxes, increase fees or jack up property assessments – not without voter approval. Vote yes.


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