State Relations

July 6, 2009

Property tax initiative likely headed to ballot

Tim Eyman’s latest initiative (I-1033) appears likely to qualify for November’s ballot.  The initiative would tie state revenue increases to the rate of inflation plus population growth, with excess money being used to reduce property taxes.   Writing in the Seattle Times, Andrew Garber picks up what is sure to be the flavor of the debate come this fall.

“Our property taxes keep growing faster and faster and government keeps getting bigger and bigger. The people are losing control,” Eyman said at a news conference Thursday.

Critics of the measure say it has serious flaws, will hurt the state’s economy and will make it more difficult for the state to recover from the recession. . .

Opponents compare Eyman’s initiative to Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, TABOR, which also used a population, plus inflation formula to limit state spending.

That law, they say, led to sharp drops in funding for public schools and higher education. Colorado voters, in 2005, suspended the constitutional limit for five years.

Eyman argues his measure is more targeted because the Colorado law applied to all governments including school districts. I-1033 only affects city, county and state government.

In addition, Eyman’s initiative can be changed by lawmakers with a simple majority vote after two years and the Legislature can try to increase spending above the revenue cap by asking voters for more money.

Signatures still need to be checked, but it appears the number submitted is enough to offset any that are invalid or duplicates.  I-1033 is the only initiative with a chance to qualify for the ballot.

You can read more about the initiative here.