Approved by the voters in 2007, Initiative 960 continues to do its job. Initiative 960 puts every tax and fee increase bill under the brightest spotlight imaginable. It requires the state budget office to identify any revenue-raising bill, calculate how much it’s going to cost taxpayers over the next 10 years, AND THEN SEND AN EMAIL TO EVERY CITIZEN WHO SIGNS UP TELLING THEM ITS COSTS AND WHO’S SPONSORING IT. I-960’s tax and fee increase alert system is keeping the public informed and scaring the politicians.
As the Seattle PI reported (before they went under):
Taxes? Fees? I-960 rattles Olympia
Legislators uneasy with new scrutiny
By CHRIS McGANN, SEATTLE P-I CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT
OLYMPIA — Lawmakers are tiptoeing through a new political minefield as they deal with Tim Eyman’s latest initiative that established an automatic public notification system for legislation that raises taxes or fees.
Proponents of the measure passed in November, Initiative 960, say it is doing exactly what it was intended to do by discouraging tax increases. But some legislators complain it is stifling necessary debate.
“It is getting in the way of open consideration of ideas,” said Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, who sponsored a bill that would tax greenhouse gas emissions (the bill would cost entities that extract or import things such as coal, petroleum and natural gas more than $26 billion over 10 years). “It is getting in the way of taking care of the business of our state.”
“You would not believe the vitriol that has come in on my telephone today,” said Chase, who added lawmakers will be reluctant to have their names associated with any bill that would trigger I-960 notification.
For his part, Eyman said the new law is doing exactly what he hoped.
“It’s extremely positive for us to learn how much these bills are going to cost the taxpayers. Is this really something we want to have hearings on? Is this something that we really want to do?’ ” Eyman said.
The Legislature should not waste time and money vetting ideas that are clearly unaffordable, he said.
“It would be nothing but an extremely positive thing for the Frank Chopps of the world or the Lisa Browns of the world to sit down and ask, ‘Twenty-seven billion dollars for a carbon tax, is this worth having a hearing over?’ ” Office of Financial Management Director Victor Moore said three full-time employees are screening the bills for I-960 requirements.
“We now send out over 1,000 e-mails to people when a bill is introduced that raises as a tax or a fee; it’s important that we get it right,” Moore said.
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We implore each and every one of you to take the time to sign up for I-960’s tax and fee increase email alert system:
http://listserv.wa.gov/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=TAX-AND-FEE-PROPOSALS&A=1 — type in your name, your email address, and click on the button: JOIN TAX-AND-FEE-PROPOSALS (if you have trouble, let us know). We want as many citizens as possible to sign up for this service. The more people who sign up, the greater I-960’s effectiveness.