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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

Paying the tab…

Three state troopers camped outside the doorway of the Secretary of State's office? What can it be?

Yup, a Tim Eyman-versus-critics press conference. Eyman on Monday filed his as-yet-unnumbered initiative to cap vehicle registration fees at $30 a year, repeal anything above that and to base vehicle fees on purchase price, not manufacturer's suggested retail price.

Eyman's speech was, well, classic Eyman.

"During these times when family budgets are stretched to the limit, Olympia is gorging itself on tax money...Last year's session involved a spending orgy unprecedented in state government," he told reporters. Government was "spitting in the eye" of taxpayers, and "at the trough squealing" about his measure. "We're already hearing the usual threats, lies and scare tactics," he said.

At Eyman's side: critic state Sen. Adam Kline, who promptly butted in.

"Tim, where's the fat in the budget?" Kline repeatedly asked.

Eyman largely ignored him, except to say that politicians get to talk 365 days a year, whereas activists only get their day in the news lights on the day they file their initiatives. He compared Kline's question to "a 1,000-pound flabby sweaty guy looking at me saying `where's the fat?'"

Kline persisted. "Point your finger to any part of this budget," he said, holding one up. "Show me where the fat is."

Eyman finally retreated across the room to file his paperwork. He and supporters watched as Kline stood in front of the cameras.

"He's afraid," Kline said, maintaining that Eyman didn't want to specify where he'd cut the budget for fear of alienating supporters who depend on, say, the nursing homes or colleges or other things taxes pay for. "He's afraid that people might make the connection between tax money coming in and services going out."

Stay tuned. Assuming that Eyman gets his measure on the November ballot, we'll have another 10 months of similar debates.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.