Eyman Unveils Latest (Potentially Devastating) Initiative

Tim Eyman hates taxes. And, if you’re a voter outside of Seattle, recent election results suggest you hate taxes too.

You’re a perfect couple, you and Mr. Eyman, and in case you needed a reminder of this fact the former Mukilteo watch salesman unveiled his latest attempt to cripple the state budget this afternoon: an initiative designed to literally force the legislature into putting a constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot that would require a two-thirds vote from lawmakers in Olympia on all tax hikes.

How does the latest Eyman effort - which comes on the heels of the state Supreme Court ruling last year that the two-thirds requirement for legislative tax hikes that Eyman championed via the initiative process was unconstitutional - force the hands of greedy, greedy politicians (concerned with funding pinko things like social services, education, transportation, etc)?

Here’s the glib language of the Eyman press release:

Our initiative gives the Legislature an impossible-to-ignore financial incentive to let us vote. It’s elegant, legal, and easy to explain. Either they let us vote (which costs them nothing) or we get the largest tax cut in state history.

Here’s how it works:

1) The initiative reduces the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5%. For taxpayers, that means $1 billion per year in tax relief. For Olympia, that would translate into a 6% “hit” on the state’s general fund.

Olympia’s politicians will not be thrilled with this policy.

2) So the initiative provides them with an escape clause. The initiative gives the Legislature until April 15, 2015 to put the 2/3 constitutional amendment on the ballot. If they do that, then the sales tax reduction expires on April 14 and never takes effect.

Dastardly. And hopefully dubious.

But, considering the fact voters have routinely supported Eyman’s efforts to require a two-thirds vote on tax hikes, it’s likely to garner significant support. The bigger question is whether the initiative will hold up to the sure-to-come scrutiny. For instance, The Olympian’s Brad Shannon has already raised concerns over whether Eyman’s latest initiative violates the state’s single-subject rule. In case you’re wondering, Eyman says it doesn’t.

“That sounds like something that might be subject of post-election litigation if it passes,” says Secretary of State spokesperson Dave Ammons when asked whether Eyman’s latest initiative is legal. Ammons also notes that the Secretary of State and the state Attorney General don’t make such judgements, and that the courts “almost never touch constitutional issues until and unless voters approve it.”

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