Costs of Eyman initiative disputed

OLYMPIA — State election officials think the cost of the state’s first-ever tax advisory ballot measures may reach $250,000 with most of it paying to let voters know what they’re voting on.

Voters this fall will be asked their opinion on new laws that eliminated a tax break for large banks and extended an existing fuel tax scheduled to expire next year.

The Secretary of State’s Office anticipates needing 16 additional pages in the voter’s pamphlet — at a cost of roughly $15,000 per page — to put in all the information required by the 2007 initiative creating advisory votes.

But Mukilteo’s Tim Eyman strongly disagreed Thursday. He said the state is approaching it all wrong and it will be much cheaper if it simply follows the rules of Initiative 960.

“They’re making these things unnecessarily complicated and expensive than what the law requires,” he said.

His lawyers said as much in a letter to Secretary of State Sam Reed on Thursday.

For example, there is a dispute on how much of the two new laws, if any, must be published in the pamphlet.

State officials think the laws in their entirety must be printed. They cover a combined 50 pages though would take far less because print would be small and condensed, officials said.

Eyman insisted none of the text needs to be included and what the secretary of state is talking about doing is a dump of data. The initiative made clear it’s not required, he said.

He stressed that for each measure, the pamphlet must include a concise description of the tax, a 10-year breakdown of its financial impact and how each of the 147 lawmakers voted on it. In addition, contact information for the lawmakers must be there.

The votes will be conducted on Senate Bill 6635, which dealt with tax break for banks, and House Bill 2590, which dealt with the fuel tax.

Both bills were signed into law in May.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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