Our Track Record On Initiatives: 17 Wins, 0 Losses, $43 Billion+ In Tax Savings, More To Come

by | Nov 20, 2019

I’ll be attending and testifying at the Seattle Sound Transit’s board meeting today (Thurs, Nov 21, 1:30pm, 401 S Jackson St, Seattle). I’ll let you know how it goes. I wrote about it yesterday:

Thanks to our tens of thousands of supporters across the state, we’ve qualified 17 statewide initiatives for a public vote – 11 were passed by voters – and taxpayers have received $43 billion in direct savings (https://permanentoffense.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/20-years-of-tax-savings-1.pdf). And billions more in indirect savings because of the 2/3 initiatives from 2007-2013. That’s from the 11 that passed.

But in my view, all 17 initiatives that made it to the ballot were victories because voters got to discuss, debate, learn about, and vote on each one.

Here’s how things went for the initiatives that qualified and passed:

*  I-200 passed in 1998 (affirmative action). Never challenged – still law.

*  I-695 passed in 1999 ($30 tabs / voter approval for any tax or fee increase). Court said 2 subjects – legislature re-enacted it anyway – $26 billion in savings to date

*  I-722 passed in 2000 (2% property tax cap, limits on other taxes). Court said 2 subjects so we sponsored even tighter cap.

*  I-747 passed in 2001 (1% limit on property taxes). Not challenged, went into effect in 2001, remained law until court ruling in 2007 but Gregoire’s special session 20 days later re-enacted it. Still law.

*  I-776 passed in 2002 ($30 tabs). State supreme court upheld it and ruled it constitutional on all points before it, including single subject rule. Seattle PI, 10/30/2003: The state Supreme Court upheld Eyman’s Initiative 776 on every point that came before it. Eyman was ecstatic yesterday. “It’s gratifying when the voters get what they voted for,” he said adding that it is “nice to see the justices moving closer to the voters.” In 2006, the court ruled on the narrow issue of bonds, saying Sound Transit’s tax would continue “as long as bonds outstanding.”  

*   I-900 passed in 2005 (performance audits). Never challenged – still law.

*   I-960 passed in 2007 (2/3 vote for taxes). Pre-election challenge to prevent the vote – unanimously rejected by supreme court. Post-election legal challenge – unanimously rejected by supreme court. Stopped all tax increases in 2008 and 2009.

Gregoire and Democrat Legislature repealed 2/3 requirement in 2010.

*   I-1053 passed in 2010 (2/3 vote for tax increases). Challenged. No tax hikes in 2011 or 2012.

*   I-1185 passed in 2012. Rodney Tom says massive yes vote for 1185 and voters’ advisory vote rejects of oil tax and bank tax spurred him to form Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (“Look at Tim Eyman’s 1185 – it got 64%… on the advisory votes to tax big oil and banks, voters said ‘No, don’t do those things’”). https://www.seattlemet.com/articles/2012/11/15/one-question-for-sen-rodney-tom

*    In Feb 2013, court struck down I-1053. Rodney Tom’s MCC stepped in and provided tax restraint (which explains why in 2013 and 2014, our tax initiatives didn’t qualify).

*    I-1366 passed in 2015 (2/3-for-taxes constitutional amendment). Pre-election challenge to prevent the vote – unanimously rejected by state supreme court. Post-election challenge – court ruled can’t do constitutional amendment by initiative. Its’ passage spurred the state senate to adopt a rule requiring 2/3 vote to raise taxes.

*   I-976 passed in 2019 (this columnist believes I-976 was helped by the 12 tax advisory votes: https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/nov/10/jayne-ok-we-get-it-voters-hate-taxes/). And it’s important to always remember that I-976 is based on I-776 which the Supreme Court found constitutional, including single subject (Seattle PI, 10/30/2003: The state Supreme Court upheld Eyman’s Initiative 776 on every point that came before it.).

Here’s a list of all the initiatives we’ve done: https://www.timdefense.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Summary-of-accomplishments-2019.pdf).

Initiatives that expand government power don’t have to worry about the courts – single subject rule doesn’t apply to them (I-1639, for example, had 19 different provisions).

Initiatives that limit government power always face challenges. But as our track record illustrates, we are constantly learning, adapting, and persevering. Our initiatives seek significant policy changes so they’re particularly difficult. So when opponents who’ve never sponsored, qualified, or passed a single initiative throw rocks at us and criticize our track record, I have to laugh. Because after reviewing our track record above, it’s idiotic to say “So 11 passed, 6 didn’t, so you’re only 61% successful” or “your initiatives win with voters, but lose with judges.” We’ve been in thousands of tiny little battles each and every day for 21 years. Government-limiting political activism in Washington guarantees fierce opposition from hostile governments, hostile politicians, hostile media, hostile judges, and yes, a corrupt Attorney General. When you consider what we’re up against, it’s nothing short of remarkable that we’ve been as successful as we’ve been. But it’s exactly because it’s so hard is why I love doing it. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it worth the effort. The linchpin to our continued success is persistence and a constant effort to learn, adapt, and persevere.

Stick with us and great things will continue to happen.