Washington Lower Property Taxes, Initiative 1033 (2009)

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The Washington Lower Property Taxes Initiative, also known as Initiative 1033, was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was defeated. The measure limited growth of certain state, county and city revenue to annual inflation and population growth, not including voter-approved revenue increases, and any revenues collective above the limit would be used to reduce property tax levies.[1]

Election results

Washington Initiative 1033 (2009)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No538,76855.38%
Yes 434,051 44.62%

Election results via: Washington Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

Initiative Measure No. 1033 concerns state, county and city revenue.

This measure would limit growth of certain state, county and city revenue to annual inflation and population growth, not including voter-approved revenue increases. Revenue collected above the limit would reduce property tax levies.

Should this measure be enacted into law? [ ] Yes [ ] No[2]

Fiscal note

A fiscal impact statement was included in the 2009 Voters' Guide. The fiscal impacts of Initiative 985 are described as follows:[1]

Initiative 1033 limits annual growth of state, city and county general fund revenue to the rate of inflation and population growth. General fund revenues exceeding this limit must be used to reduce the following year’s state, city or county general fund property tax levy. The initiative reduces state general fund revenues that support education; social, health and environmental services; and general government activities by an estimated $5.9 billion by 2015. The initiative also reduces general fund revenues that support public safety, infrastructure and general government activities by an estimated $694 million for counties and $2.1 billion for cities by 2015.[2]


Support

"Voters Want More Choices," an organization headed by Tim Eyman, Leo Fagan and M.J. Fagan, spearheaded the campaign in support of the initiative. Supporters of the initiative include the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Taxpayers Union.

Arguments

The following reasons were given in support of Initiative 1033 in the Washington 2009 Voters' Guide:[1]

I-1033 Closes Loopholes the Legislature Put in Taxpayer Protection Initiative 601, Voter-Approved in 1993

In 1993, during tough economic times, voters approved I-601, putting reasonable limits on government’s fiscal policies, establishing a sustainable rate for government to grow. I-601 worked very well for many years until the Legislature started putting loopholes in it, resulting in major deficits – $3.2 billion in 2003 – $9 billion in 2009.

I-1033 reestablishes I-601’s same reasonable allowance for growth (inflation plus population growth) and includes a safety valve allowing higher increases with voter approval.

I-1033 gets government off the “fiscal roller coaster,” allowing it to grow at a sustainable rate that doesn’t outpace taxpayers’ ability to afford it.

What Happens to Excess Tax Revenues that Government Collects Above I-1033's Limit? After a Fixed...

…percentage of tax revenue is transferred into the constitutionally-protected rainy day fund, the remainder of excess tax revenues gets refunded back to taxpayers via lower property taxes. Struggling working families and fixed-income senior citizens desperately need relief from our state’s crushing property tax burden. Washington shouldn’t be a state where only rich people can afford a home. I-1033 provides needed, long-overdue property tax relief.

Opponents Want Higher Taxes and a State Income Tax - Opponents are Against Any Limits on...

…government’s power to take as much as they want from taxpayers. Property taxes keep going higher and higher and government keeps getting bigger and bigger. The people are losing control. I-1033 allows government to grow but at a rate citizens can control and taxpayers can afford. I-1033 is needed now more than ever.

Washington's the 8th Highest Taxed State in the Nation – I-1033 Keeps us from Hitting #1

I-1033 reminds politicians that taxpayers don’t have bottomless wallets. I-1033 puts a reasonable limit on the growth of government and provides plenty of flexibility (rainy day funds, federal funds, voter-approved revenues).

Vote Yes.[2]

The arguments in favor of Initiative 1033 were prepared by:[1]

  • Erma Turner, beauty shop owner, gathered 3699 signatures, Cle Elum
  • Steven Bencze, retired warehouseman, fisherman/hunter, gathered 2568 signatures, Othello
  • Mike Dunmire, husband, community leader, retired businessman, initiative volunteer, Woodinville
  • Jack Fagan, retired policeman, retired navy, grandfather, campaign organizer, Spokane
  • Mike Fagan, small businessman, community leader, father, campaign organizer, Spokane
  • Tim Eyman, $30 Car Tab Guy, Taxpayer Advocate, Yakima / Mukilteo

Contributions

Those supporting Initiative 1033 raised $727,049.[3] The top five donors in support of the initiative were:[4]

  • Mike Dunmire: $300,000
  • Kemper Holdings LLC: $25,000
  • Duane Alton: $5,000
  • Electric Contractors Association: $3,000
  • Rolan Becker: $2,000

Opposition

"No on I-1033," the organization opposing the initiative, was managed by Aisling Kerins. Those opposing the initiative included AARP Washington, American Federation of Teachers Washington, the AFL-CIO, King County Democrats, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft Corporation, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, The Nature Conservancy Washington, SEIU Locals 775, 925 and 1199, the Washington Education Association, the Washington Public Employees Association, the Washington Federation of State Employees, Seattle-Northwest Securities Corporation, and the Roman Catholic Bishops of Washington. State Treasurer Jim McIntyre said he would not be supporting the initiative, noting that it would do "financial damage" to the state.[5]

Arguments

The following reasons were given in opposition to Initiative 1033 in the Washington 2009 Voters' Guide:[1]

Eyman’s latest initiative is already a proven failure.

Tim Eyman’s latest initiative uses the same failed formula as the “TABOR” law passed in Colorado, which led to deep cuts to public schools, roads and highways, and children’s health care. It did so much damage to the state’s economy that in 2005, Coloradans voted to suspend the law.

I-1033 will make it harder for us to dig out of the recession.

The national recession has cost our state thousands of jobs and forced billions in cutbacks to important local services, like education and health care. I-1033 will force deeper cuts and lock them in for years – meaning more job losses, more hard times for Washington families, and a longer delay waiting for our economy to recover.

More bad news for our communities and small businesses.

I-1033 will make things harder than ever for local communities already struggling to maintain basic services such as road repair, libraries and public safety. Small businesses rely on those services, and oppose I-1033 because they will continue to suffer during a prolonged recession.

More damage to our schools, and a deepening health care crisis.

This year we’ve slashed school funding by $1.5 billion, and as many as 3,000 teachers and education employees are facing layoffs. The Eyman TABOR plan will take even more resources away from Washington’s classrooms – and Washington’s kids.

Despite a growing senior population, funding for nursing homes, in-home care and adult day health services are being cut – and 40,000 Washington residents of all ages may lose their Basic Health Plan coverage. Eyman’s TABOR plan will make our health care crisis more severe.

Times are tough enough already – let’s not make them worse. Vote NO on I-1033.[2]

The arguments against Initiative 1033 were prepared by:[1]

  • Doug Shadel, AARP Washington, State Director
  • Kelly Fox, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, President
  • Laura Feshbach, Co-owner Harmatta Construction Inc, Seattle
  • Teri Nicholson, Registered Nurse, Valley Hospital and Medical Center, Spokane
  • Mary Lindquist, Washington Education Association, high school Social Studies teacher
  • Kelley Collen, Assistant Economics Professor, Eastern Washington University, Cheney

Contributions

Those opposing Initiative 1033 raised $3,527,362.[3] The top five donors opposing the initiative were:[6]

Media editorial positions

Support

  • The Chronicle said, "We maintain our state government spends too much of our money and without outside pressure and laws such as I-1033, those running our governments will continue to turn toward higher taxes to fund ever-expanding programs. Vote yes on I-1033."[7]

Opposition

  • The Seattle Times said, "If I-1033 passes, the state Office of Financial Management predicts a $5.9 billion budget hole over six years. There is no way that education, human services, criminal justice and natural resources will not suffer as a result."[8]
  • The Spokesman-Review said, "Most people in this region are willing to shoulder a reasonable tax burden to pay for fundamental government services, and they’re eager for the economic recovery that will make it possible. Initiative 1033 would only prolong the difficult times."[9]
  • Yakima Herald-Republic said, "What concerns us also are the cutbacks that will befall our cities and counties under Eyman's initiative. His main beef has always been with what he calls free-spending state lawmakers. So why drop a sledge-hammer on cash-strapped towns and counties? Due to plunging sales and property taxes, Central Washington municipalities and counties are facing extreme budget shortfalls despite being, as a group, fiscally prudent. But under Eyman's initiative, that doesn't matter."[10]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2009 ballot measures
  • A poll conducted October 14 – 26 by the Washington Poll revealed that 41% of voters planned to vote in favor of I-1033, while 46% were opposed and 13% were undecided. They polled 724 registered voters. The margin of error is reported to be +/- 3.6%.[11][12]
  • KING5/SurveyUSA conducted a survey of 1,050 adults between October 3-October 5. The poll showed I-1033 ahead by 13% points, with 22% of those surveyed undecided.[13][14]
  • On September 22, 2009 Rasmussen Reports presented poll results that revealed that 61% of voters planned to vote "yes" on I-1033, while 31% planned on voting "no" on the measure.[15]
  • According to a poll conducted by pollster Tom Kiley, sponsored by I-1033 opponents, 51% of surveyed voters supported the measure, while 31% opposed the measure.[16]
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided
September 2009 Tom Kiley 51% 31% 18%
Sept. 22, 2009 Rasmussen Reports 61% 31% 8%
Oct. 3 - 5 KING5/Survey USA 45% 32% 22%
Oct. 14 – 26 Washington Poll 41% 46% 13%

Path to the ballot

Initiative 1033 was filed on January 5, 2009 by Tim Eyman. 315,444 signatures were submitted to qualify it for the ballot. The measure was placed on the ballot as provided for by the state constitution.[17]

Public records request

In August 2009, the National Education Association filed a request for copies of petitions that were submitted and verified for the initiative.[18] Eyman questioned the association's reason for requesting the information, particularly with issues of signature privacy and the release of donor names concerning Referendum 71. Eyman worried that "the National Education Association's Charles Hasse... [would be] publishing names and addresses of Washington state's citizens who signed I-1033 petitions... What other reason would there be for these Washington DC 'big guns' to get the names and addresses of Washington state citizens who signed I-1033 petitions?"[19]

Legal challenges

On September 8, 2009, Voters Want More Choices, Tim Eyman and Jack and Mike Fagan filed a lawsuit in Thurston County, Washington. They sought to halt the use of ballot language that they argued was "erroneous" and "misleading." They stated that the ballot language was intended only to provide examples of revenue sources rather than an exclusive list of revenue sources covered by the initiative. Additionally, they wanted to remove exclusions from the revenue limit of state and federal grants received by cities and counties.[20] Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks ruled that the ballot language would not be changed, stating that he could not find a clear error in the ballot's fiscal statement.[21]

On October 13, 2009, Eyman filed a lawsuit to block the release of initiative petition signatures.[22] He argued that the signers' identities are protected by the freedom of speech.[23] Judge Richard Hicks of the Thurston County Superior Court granted a temporary restraining order on signature releases on October 15, 2009.[24]

In September 2010, Judge Richard Hicks dissolved an injunction on the release of signatures.[25] The Secretary of State stated that the requestor cannot use any of the signatures for commercial purposes.[26]

Similar measures

ApprovedaColorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act (1992)
DefeateddMaine Taxpayer Bill of Rights Initiative (2006)
DefeateddMaine Tax Relief Initiative, Question 4 (2009)

See also

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Suggest a link

Articles

External links

Additional reading

Editorials

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Office of the Secretary of State, "2009 Voters Pamphlet," accessed September 5, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Follow the Money, Initiative 1033"
  4. Washington Public Disclosure Commission, "Voters Wnat More Choices Committee," accessed October 13, 2009
  5. King5, "Treasurer says I-1033 could hurt state's bond rating," October 12, 2009
  6. Washington Public Disclosure Commission, "No on I-1033 Committee," accessed October 13, 2009
  7. The Chronicle, "Our Views: Yes on Initiative 1033, No on Ref. 71," October 19, 2009 (dead link)
  8. The Seattle Times, "Seattle Times election endorsements," October 30, 2009
  9. Spokesman-Review, "Editorial: Tough times would last longer under I-1033," October 11, 2009
  10. Yakima Herald-Republic, "I-1033's cost outweighs savings, should be defeated," October 11, 2009
  11. Washington Poll, "2009 ballot measures," October 27, 2009
  12. Washington Secretary of State: From our corner, "WA Poll: R-71 leads, I-1033 trails," October 27, 2009
  13. SurveyUSA, "Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #15877," October 2009
  14. The Oregonian, "Poll shows Washington voters divided on domestic partnerships and tax limits," October 7, 2009
  15. The News Tribune, "Eyman: Poll shows I-1033 passing 61-31," September 29, 2009
  16. Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Eyman initiative foes start to make up ground," September 24, 2009
  17. Washington Secretary of State, "Initiatives to the People," accessed September 6, 2013
  18. KPLU, "Battle Heats Up Over Voter Petitions," August 5, 2009
  19. The News Tribune, "Eyman questions education group’s look into initiative," August 3, 2009
  20. The News Tribune, "I-1033 backers fight wording," September 5, 2009
  21. The Seattle Times, "Judge won't edit voter's pamphlet on Wash. I-1033," September 11, 2009
  22. Herald Net, "Suit filed to keep Eyman initiative signers' names secret," October 13, 2009
  23. Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Second Wash. lawsuit over voter petitions," October 13, 2009 (dead link)
  24. Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Judge blocks release of Eyman petitions," October 14, 2009
  25. The Spokesman-Review, "Judge allows initiative signatures to be released," September 3, 2010
  26. Oregon Public Broadcasting, "Judge Allows Washington State To Release Many Ballot Petitions," September 3, 2010