I-695 may be history, but effects will linger


EAssociated Press

OLYMPIA — Initiative 695 may be dead in the eyes of the Washington Supreme Court, but its effect will be felt for years — legally, politically and financially.

The court, in a decision released Thursday, voted 8-1 to affirm a trial judge’s decision to strike down I-695 as unconstitutional because it was not properly presented to voters and because it disrupted the balance of power between citizens and legislators.

But half of the measure, elimination of the progressive tax on automobile license tabs in exchange for a flat $30 annual fee, has been put into law by legislators and a governor eager to please frustrated voters.

And initiative sponsor Tim Eyman has pledged to file a new proposal next year that would contain the other half of I-695, a requirement that future tax increases be approved by voters.

Eyman said voters who are tired of rising taxes mustn’t let up.

"They (voters) saw we had an impact when they got their $30 tabs," he said. "We understood this would be a long battle, and not something you can win in one round."

Indeed, the spirit of I-695 lives on in I-722, the so-called "Son of 695" that is one of two Eyman measures on the Nov. 7 ballot. I-722 would require governments to repeal any tax increases imposed during the second half of 1999 and limit future property tax increases to 2 percent.

Secretary of State Ralph Munro, a Republican, said voters may be experiencing "initiative fatigue" and may vote down many of the six measures on this year’s ballot.

In addition, critics have noted that I-722 also appears to contain two subjects, which was one of the reasons I-695 was ruled unconstitutional.

Eyman dismissed the naysayers.

"We feel very comfortable with the language of 722," he said. "We feel the only way for voters to get any proper tax relief is to vote yes on 722."

Munro, who has lamented the decline of true citizen-based initiatives amid the rise of special interests, praised the Supreme Court decision for spelling out the do’s and don’ts of initiative-writing.

"I think it’s really a landmark case," he said. "Anybody who writes an initiative in the future and doesn’t read this opinion is nuts."

I-695 will continue to have political repercussions.

Despite Eyman’s doubts, Gov. Gary Locke predicted that proposals for major tax increases will be forwarded to voters. The governor already has said he expects that voters will be asked to sign off next year on an upcoming funding package designed to reduce traffic congestion.

Republicans seeking to regain control of the evenly divided state House of Representatives promised to make voter approval of tax increases an issue in the 2001 session that begins in January.

House Co-Speaker Clyde Ballard, R-East Wenatchee, said the Supreme Court’s decision to quash the requirement for voter approval of tax and fee increases will only fuel rising voter discontent.

"I think it’s like you took 100 gallons of gasoline and poured it on an open fire," he said. "The public is revolting, and some of our elected officials simply don’t get it."

He outlined a GOP proposal to let local governments raise taxes and begin collecting the revenues as long as any increases go before voters at the next general election.

I-695 also will continue to have an economic impact.

The elimination of the automobile tax knocked out $750 million in annual tax revenues and resulted in painful budget cuts.

But the Legislature only provided temporary funding for some programs, so the full impact is expected to surface during the two-year budget cycle that begins next summer.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

A guitarist keeps rhythm during Lovely Color’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Black Lab in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
No matter what music you’re into, Fisherman’s Village has a hook for you

From folk to psychedelic pop to hip-hop, here’s a quick guide to artists you might want to check out in downtown Everett.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.