In a newspaper column, Eyman defends tax advisory votes — here’s why we do them

by | Nov 27, 2017

Here’s why we voted on this year’s crop of tax increases:

Eyman defends tax advisory votes

By Tim Eyman for the Yakima Herald Republic

Nearly 70% of voters rejected this year’s crop of tax increases imposed by the 2017 Legislature. Before the election, the YHR’s editorial board wrote that they strongly opposed the voter-passed law granting voters the right to vote on them. Tax advisory votes were once again on the ballot and once again the elites didn’t like them.

To appreciate and understand why this relatively new policy is beneficial, it’s important to know why they were created in the first place: it’s because the Legislature has essentially repealed the right to referendum guaranteed by our state Constitution. The referendum power is a constitutional right where the people, when faced with a newly imposed law, can collect signatures and let the voters vote on whether to repeal it or not. It’s essentially a voter veto. But since 2003, the Legislature consistently slaps emergency clauses on bills, making them referendum-proof. So even though voters have a constitutional right to referendum, the Legislature has found a way to take it away.

The politicians’ elimination of the people’s referendum power is, in my view, a gross injustice.

So in 2007, when drafting Initiative 960, we included a new policy called a tax advisory vote. It does not allow the public to veto a tax increase, the way a referendum does, but an advisory vote at least puts each blocked tax increase on the ballot for voters to vote on. And voters get to learn which taxes were raised, how much they’re going to cost, and lists how each legislator voted on each tax increase.

So now, whenever the Legislature raises taxes and blocks the people from doing a referendum by declaring an emergency, there is a tax advisory vote.

This year, the Legislature unilaterally imposed several tax increases. The state budget office confirms that these tax increases will cost taxpayers $17.6 billion over the next 10 years. Here’s how voters voted on them:

* 58% of voters on Tuesday rejected House Bill 1597 which imposes new taxes on commercial fishing – costs taxpayers $546,000.

* 65% of voters rejected House Bill 2163 which imposes higher taxes on bottled water, self-produced fuel, and internet purchases – costs taxpayers $4.6 billion.

* 62% of voters rejected House Bill 2242 which imposes higher property taxes – costs taxpayers $12.9 billion.

According to our state Constitution, the taxpayers had the guaranteed right to challenge these tax increases with a referendum. But we were denied that right because the Legislature declared these tax increases as “emergencies” making them immune to citizen referendum.

But thanks to voters approving tax advisory votes with our initiatives in 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2015, this year’s voter’s pamphlets and ballots served once again as a tax increase report card. Voters got to learn which taxes were increased, what each tax increase will cost, and how each legislator voted on each tax increase. And the voters got to vote on each one.

And they overwhelmingly rejected all of them.

Rather than attacking me and voters for creating tax advisory votes, why doesn’t the YHR criticize the Legislature for making them necessary in the first place? It’s a travesty that politicians have taken away one of our most cherished constitutional rights. But at least the people have fought back and created something that gives the voters a greater voice in Olympia’s taxing decisions. And I’m proud of that.

Democrats now control the Senate, House, and Governorship which means they’re now salivating at the chance to massively raise taxes next year. But Tuesday’s results show voters are taxed out. We will work extra hard next year to remind Olympia’s Democrats of that fact.

Tim Eyman is currently co-sponsoring Bring Back Our $30 Tabs Initiative 947,,, 509-991-5295

We’re working super hard to Bring Back Our $30 Tabs and stick it to Sound Transit — here’s two ways you can help us:

1) ask for petitions and help collect signatures (collect 1000+ signatures and earn yourself an uber-orange $30 Tabs t-shirt — John Berry and other Ironing Board brigade members who’ve been diligently getting signatures at the Pierce County Annex recently earned them).

2) donate (just think about how much you’ve saved over the years from our other two successful $30 Tabs Initiatives).