Washington Property Tax Limitation, Initiative 747 (2001)

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The Washington Property Tax Limitation, also known as Initiative Measure 747, was on the November 6, 2001 ballot as an Initiative to the People in Washington, where it was approved before being overturned by the Washington Supreme Court six years later. This initiative placed limitations on property tax increases.

Election results

Washington Initiative Measure 747 (2001)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 826,258 57.6%
No609,26642.4%

Election results via the Washington Secretary of State.[1]

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Initiative Measure No. 747 concerns limiting property tax increases. This measure would require state and local governments to limit property tax levy increases to 1% per year, unless an increase greater than this limit is approved by the voters at an election.

Should this measure be enacted into law?[3]

Path to the ballot

The language was filed on January 8, 2001 by Tim Eyman of Mukilteo, Leo Fagan of Spokane, Ray Benham of Kennewick, and M. J. Fagan of Spokane. 290,704 signatures were filed and found sufficient.

Court ruling

On November 7, 2007, six years after the measure was originally approved, the state Supreme Court ruled Initiative 747 unconstitutional. According to the 5-4 decision, the ballot language "misled voters about the substantive impact of the initiative on existing law."[4] I-747 sponsor Tim Eyman declared the state was "in for absolute chaos" and faced a "nightmare scenario" in the wake of the ruling.

Support

Arguments in favor

These arguments in support appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[5]

WASHINGTON’S THE 5TH HIGHEST TAXED STATE IN THE NATION – TAXPAYERS NEED AND DESERVE MEANINGFUL RELIEF

We’re 5th. That means 45 other states provide education, transportation, criminal justice, and other government services at a lower level of taxation than Washington does. Taxpayers desperately need and deserve meaningful tax relief.

Consider property taxes. For decades, numerous taxing districts have increased property taxes 6% per year. That means state government has jacked them up, counties, cities, fire districts, library districts, special districts, and ports have all dramatically jacked them up. Property taxes are skyrocketing in Washington. Currently, property taxes double every 7 to 9 years. We need I-747 to defuse Washington’s “property tax time bomb” so working class families and senior citizens, and not just rich people, can afford to buy and own homes.

I-747 LIMITS PROPERTY TAX COLLECTIONS FOR EACH TAXING DISTRICT – OUR COURTS HAVE OK’D THIS APPROACH

Numerous efforts have been made to limit property tax increases but they’ve either been struck down by courts or contained huge loopholes. I-747 carefully follows recent court rulings and closes previous loopholes. 1% ought to be enough for any taxing district (and if it’s not, I-747 allows voter approval for higher increases).

WE KNEW I-747 WOULD BE ATTACKED, SO WE PURPOSELY MADE I-747 A VERY MODERATE PROPOSAL

I-747 doesn’t slash property taxes, it simply limits property tax increases. So, concerning “lost revenue,” politicians simply can’t complain – I-747 doesn’t take away any more money from government than they had in 2000.

FAMILY BUDGETS ARE UNDER ASSAULT – TAXES, HEALTH CARE, ENERGY, HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION, RENT – THEY’RE ALL SKYROCKETING

Politicians must learn that family budgets desperately need meaningful tax relief. And I-747 takes an incredibly modest approach: limiting property tax increases. Without I-747, soon only rich people will be able to afford homes.

Vote “Yes” and tell politicians to stop ignoring taxpayers – after all, we’re paying the bills.

For more information, call 425.493.8707 or visit website: www.i-747.com.

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Washington is the 5th highest taxed state. Property taxes are skyrocketing. I-747 offers moderate, reasonable limits on property tax increases. Politicians offer no alternative – their response to taxpayers is “tough it out.” I-747 ensures long-overdue accountability by requiring politicians to prioritize and effectively utilize existing revenues. With I-747, tax increases will be a last resort. Besides, 1% ought to be enough for any taxing district (and remember, voters can OK higher increases). Please vote “Yes.[3]

Supporters

The following individuals signed the argument in support of Initiative 747 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Tim Eyman, anti-tax advocate
  • Monte Benham, co-sponsor
  • Jack Fagan, co-sponsor
  • Mike Fagan, co-sponsor
  • Martin Van Buren
  • Diane Aubrey

Opposition

Arguments against

These arguments in opposition appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[6]

FIREFIGHTERS, NURSES, LIBRARIANS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS URGE A NO VOTE ON I-747

Initiative 747 will restrict funds we invest directly in local services like fire protection, public hospitals, libraries—even transportation.

I-747 THREATENS BASIC LOCAL SERVICES— SERVICES WE RELY ON IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS

Because I-747 doesn’t allow critical services like fire and emergency medical districts, public hospitals, and road crews to keep pace with inflation and growth, severe cuts may be impossible to avoid.

For example, Woodinville’s Fire and Life Safety District needs additional firefighters and a ladder truck to serve a growing population. Since I-747 cuts funds that come directly from residents to the fire district, critical fire protection is threatened. Facing similar shortfalls, I-747 will limit the ability of local fire departments and hospitals across the state from planning for the future, or even for emergencies—like the Nisqually earthquake or the devastating 2001 fire season.

I-747 HURTS ALL OF US: REAL EXAMPLES FROM REAL PEOPLE ACROSS WASHINGTON

“King and Snohomish County residents are sick of gridlock. I-747 means intersection and county highway improvements won’t get made,” says Snohomish County road crew worker Roger Moller. Klickitat County Fire Commissioner Miland Walling is concerned that “we will be unable to purchase safety equipment for rural firefighters.” Pierce County library employee Patti Cox says a threeyear loss of $1.5 million means “we will have to shorten library hours and cut services like children’s reading hours. Yakima County Prosecutor Jeff Sullivan invites “anyone to come look over the budget and suggest which felony crimes I shouldn’t prosecute.”

WE DESERVE MORE FIRE, PUBLIC SAFETY, AND LIBRARY SERVICE, NOT LESS; WE DON’T NEED I-747

I-747 will cut directly from funds that stay in our community for services we support.Our neighbors across Washington agree: our communities cannot afford I-747.

For more information, call 206.447.0888 or visit website: www.voteno747.org.

Rebuttal of Statement For

  • Washington isn’t the “5th highest taxed state.” Our taxes are lower than many similar states.
  • It’s inefficient to vote for services we already support: $2 million pays for an election in King County or two complete fire stations—staff and equipment—for a full year.
  • Tim Eyman says he is “proud of our volunteers” without mentioning the $529,000 he paid for signatures and to his for-profit initiative business. (www.pdc.wa.gov)

Vote No on I-747[3]

Opponents

The following individuals signed the argument in opposition of Initiative 747 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Kelly Fox, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters
  • Louise Kaplan, Washington State Nurses Association
  • Carol Gill Schuyler, President, Washington Library Association
  • Jeff Sullivan, Yakima County Prosecutor
  • Bob Drewel, Snohomish County Executive

See also

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External links

References