I-1033 backers fight wording

The sponsors of Initiative 1033 have sued state officials to stop information from being included in the statewide voter’s pamphlet that they contend is erroneous and misleading.

The lawsuit alleges the state Office of Financial Management made assumptions while drafting the fiscal impact statement to be included in the pamphlet that exclude types of revenue that should fall under the measure if approved Nov. 3. The agency responded it has done nothing that requires such a revision.

The suit filed in Thurston County Superior Court on Tuesday seeks a court order to force agency director Victor Moore to reissue a corrected statement and prevent Secretary of State Sam Reed from publishing the drafted version.

The plaintiffs are Voters Want More Choices and its directors, Tim Eyman and Jack and Mike Fagan.

A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday. The sponsors had requested an expedited court hearing because the deadline to accept text for the voter’s pamphlet without interrupting printing is Sept. 18.

In general, the initiative on the November ballot would limit the growth in revenue funneled to state and local governments’ general funds based on an annual rate of inflation and population growth.

Any revenue over that limit would be used to lower property taxes the following year.

The OFM estimated the initiative would cost state government $5.9 billion in tax revenues and cities and counties nearly $2.8 billion in receipts by 2015. Corresponding amounts would be diverted to separate accounts used to pay down the amounts levied as property taxes.

Richard Stephens, the sponsors’ attorney, wrote Moore in an Aug. 13 letter included as an exhibit to the lawsuit.

He argued the initiative’s description of general fund revenue by referring to taxes, fees or other governmental charges “is intended to be illustrative of the types of sources of revenue to the funds covered, rather than be exclusive and thereby selecting revenues from some sources to come within the revenue limit and excluding all others.”

Other assumptions in the statement that sponsors are attempting to remove are exclusions from the revenue limit of state and federal grants received by cities and counties, charges for contracted services performed by local governments, and loan repayment and unclaimed property.

The agency also can’t assume that towns fall under the initiative, they said.

In a Aug. 21 letter, Moore responded that only a court can definitively interpret a statute and, as a result, all relevant factors used in OFM’s were clearly identified as assumptions within the fiscal impact statement.

He added that the state Attorney General’s Office, which drafted the ballot title and explanatory statement, reviewed the statement and did not make a single change.

“For these reasons, he believe our fiscal impact statement assumptions do not require revision,” he wrote.

The case has been assigned to Judge Anne Hirsch. Eyman wrote in an affidavit filed Thursday that he couldn’t get a fair and impartial hearing before Hirsch, but he didn’t provide reasons.

Christian Hill: 360-754-5427