Last night, the Spokane City Council voted unanimously to oppose I-1366, the latest measure put forth by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman.
The initiative, which appears on this November's ballots, would would lower sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent next spring if lawmakers don't submit an amendment to the people that requires two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes.
The council vote was 5-0. Councilman Mike Fagan, who works with Eyman and helped to get the initiative on the ballot, recused himself from the vote due to his connections to Eyman and the measure.
At one point during the discussion, Councilman Jon Snyder discussed Eyman and his connection to the measure, saying that voters had begun to learn about Eyman's tactics. Last month, the state Public Disclosure Commission referred its investigation into Eyman's business dealings to the state attorney's office.
Fagan attempted to stop Snyder from talking about Eyman, and asked Council President Ben Stuckart to block Snyder's testimony.
Stuckart refused to stop Snyder, but Snyder said Stuckart's ruling didn't matter one way or the other, noting that he was an elected official and had the responsibility to speak out.
The resolution opposing I-1366 was sponsored by Councilmember Amber Waldref, Fagan's seat mate from District 1 in northeast Spokane. She said its passage would cut the state budget by $8 billion over the next 6 years with the sales tax reduction.
“If this initiative passes, Spokane could face huge cuts to many programs including funding our medical school,” Waldref said.
According to a statement from the city, in addition to cuts to the medical school and biomedical research, passing the initiative could impact other higher education funding for institutions such as Eastern Washington University and the Community Colleges of Spokane, leading to higher tuition and fewer class offerings.
“Spokane could lose many critical programs and education investments if I-1366 passes,” said Waldref. “Voters need to know how this could impact our community.”