Tim Eyman is seeing red and headed to the Capitol to defend his Initiative 1053 on Wednesday. Voters approved the measure by a 64 percent margin last November, and as we reported Sunday, Democratic Sen. Ed Murray is holding a hearing to consider changes to it.
Murray would also plans to hear bills that close a few tax “loopholes,” including one giving business tax breaks a 25-percent reduction.
“I’m definitely coming down for it. No costumes just a suit and tie but with the backing of 64 percent of the people,” Eyman said Tuesday in a voice message. “I think it’s going to be the fight of the day – it’s going to be the battle over 1053 ”
I-1053 requires any tax increase to be approved by a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, and that rule also applies to closing tax breaks that can be enacted on a simple majority or 50-percent-plus-one vote. Murray is raising a question whether voters still think the supermajority hurdle for tax breaks should remain on the books.
The hearing was announced for 2:30 p.m. then moved back to 2.
“I think it’s incredibly manipulative of the Democrats to schedule it in the afternoon on a weekday, guaranteeing that our supporters – people who have jobs and create jobs in Washington – don’t have time to travel down to Olympia,” Eyman said. “But of course all the special interest groups that are going to receive the money are down there full time.’’
Of course, the state’s most well-known professional promoter of initiatives is himself a special interest who earns a living putting measures on the ballot, then defending them at the Legislature. And some of his big supporters last year were special interest groups – firms like BP, the oil producer, and large banks, all of whom were afraid that tax increases they thwarted in 2010 would be too hard to fight a second time if I-1053 did not raise the vote requirement.
Eyman said the hearing will be stacked. And it’s true that he likely will get no more than three minutes to talk, like anyone else. He said regular citizens who share his views won’t show up because of time conflicts, but they should not have to show up after voting last year.
“It’s clear what the voters want but they are going to try to skew things with a stacked hearing,’’ Eyman said.
The action should be streaming live via TVW.org.
And it comes a day after the Senate voted 41-0 with eight lawmakers excused or absent to give newspaper publishers a “blended” tax rate that allows them to pay the same rate for ads sold for print and online display. Senate Bill 5534 now goes to the House for further action.
Rowland Thompson of Allied Daily Newspapers said the bill is not a tax exemption but a blending of rates. It will cost the state about $17,000 over the next two years.
The four tax-related bills listed on the Ways and Means schedule for hearing today are:
** SB 5944 - Concerning revenue increases for purposes of imposing a supermajority voting requirement in the legislature.
** SB 5945 - Modifying excise tax laws to provide funding for essential government services.
** SB 5947 - Repealing certain tax exemptions to provide funding for essential government services.