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YES: Rein in spending, cap government revenue

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By Tim Eyman
The worst thing government can do right now is raise taxes because that’ll just make this tough recession last longer. That’s why Gov. Gregoire’s recent announcement enthusiastically supporting higher taxes makes Initiative 1033, on the November ballot, 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 — raise taxes, increase fees, jack up property assessments — unless voters approve. With I-1033, instead of constantly trying to maximize revenue — taking more of our money — 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.
93 percent of small business owners in Washington endorsed I-1033 recently. In their endorsement announcement, Washington’s NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) wrote: “Small businesses are struggling just to keep their doors open. Higher taxes jeopardize their ability to stay in business, let alone add the jobs this state needs to pull itself out of recession. With a looming $117 million workers’ compensation tax hike and Gregoire’s announcement that she is open to additional tax increases, it’s not surprising that small businesses are demanding some restraint.”
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%, 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.
Nonetheless, voters approved I-747 by a huge 58-42 percent margin. Since 2001, governments have adapted to the 1 percent limit. It has become so widely accepted that Gregoire called a special session and reimposed it in 2007. The vote was 86-8 in the House, 39-9 in the Senate — every Republican and 80 percent of Democrats — and Gregoire enthusiastically signed it.
Prior to the election, a 1 percent cap was “impossible” — now, it is the new normal.
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 ask the voters for more.
Have we had any experience with inflation-and-population growth limits? You bet. From 1993 through 2005, government lived with I-601’s growth limit, the same as I-1033’s. During that 12 years, government grew but at a more stable, sustainable rate.
That changed in 2005, when Gregoire and the Democrats got rid of I-601’s limit with Senate Bill 6078.
The result?
They created a huge fiscal roller coaster, overextending themselves in good times — creating unsustainable budgets — which inevitably made the bad times even worse, ending with a $9 billion deficit. If they hadn’t repealed I-601’s reasonable growth limit, government would have grown to where it is today — but there wouldn’t have been a wrenching $9 billion deficit.
I-1033 brings back I-601’s fiscal discipline — we need it now more than ever.
From NFIB’s 93 percent endorsement announcement: “Initiative 1033 will restore some sanity to government budgeting which has been lost as the Legislature whittled away the spending controls that the people established through I-601.”
I-1033 also allows funds to be transferred into the constitutionally-protected rainy day fund. And if government receives excess tax revenue beyond that, that extra revenue will be used to lower everyone’s crushing property tax burden.
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.
Please vote Yes on I-1033.

Tim Eyman is co-sponsor of I-1033 ( Contact him at 425-493-8707 or

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