Washingtonians showed a bit of wisdom by declining to sign a pair of wrong-headed citizen initiatives during the winter, spring and early summer.
Both proposals failed to draw enough voter signatures to qualify for the fall 2017 ballot. And that is the fate we also wish on Tim Eyman’s latest misguided initiative to the Legislature. His new gambit is an attack on funding for mass transit that voters approved in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
We can say more about Eyman’s hissy fit. But first we congratulate voters on a job well done in refusing to sign two petty-minded initiatives that failed to get on the fall ballot.
Each of the failed proposals would have done harm. Neither was in line with state values, include protecting the rights of minorities against discrimination and adequately funding public schools.
Initiative 1552 was backed by conservatives and religious groups that sought to repeal part of the state’s civil rights protections for transgender individuals in employment and accommodations. In effect, it sought to bar transgender women from using women’s locker rooms and bathrooms. It would have forced transgender women to use male facilities corresponding to their birth gender, not their actual gender identities.
Similarly transgender men would have been required to use women’s facilities if they were born male.
The take-away message? Washingtonians respect and protect the civil rights of minorities — even very small groups. Those who want to stir up fears in a bid to legalize discrimination need to accept this.
The other failed measure was Eyman’s I-1550. Eyman makes his living by engineering initiative campaigns that sometimes tilt at windmills or shoot bullets at fictional villains.
He is, of course, also in the cross hairs of legal action taken by the state Public Disclosure Commission and attorney general for failing to disclose kickback payments he received from petition signature-gathering firms.
Perhaps Eyman is just forgetful. He seemed to forgot what his allies in the Republican Party were doing to raise state property taxes at the Legislature this year.
While Eyman was decrying property taxes, the GOP-led Senate was firmly insisting on an increase in the state property tax by some $4 billion for K-12 schools.
The Legislature’s increase in the state property tax will now be used to help reduce or replace voter-approved local property tax levies. But Eyman’s measure might have sabotaged the K-12 funding plan adopted by legislators of both parties in late June.
The takeaway message? Buyer beware when it comes to Eyman.
His latest initiative is yet another example of how he puts his interests ahead of the state’s. Voters should not sign his new $30 car tabs measure. It is a craven attempt to tap into public resentment over car license tab fees in central Puget Sound.
Voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties approved a pricey increase in their car tab fees to finance Sound Transit’s ST3 package of rail projects last fall. Unfortunately for voters in Pierce County, who rejected the ST3 tax hike by more than 10 percentage points, they were outnumbered by counterparts in King and Snohomish counties and must share costs for the $54 billion investment.
Sound Transit is also using a valuation method that assumes cars are worth more than they really are. This isn’t fair and many voters know it.
But Eyman is simply trying to cash in on the blow back over tax rates.
His answer? Slash funding for mass transit in central Puget Sound by limiting car tab fees to $30 a year.
That $30 fee was the one voters endorsed in 1999 when they passed Eyman’s first successful initiative, I-695. State lawmakers have since carved exemptions into the law so that local governments can raise tab fees to cover rising road repair costs and to let Sound Transit counties pay for their projects, if their voters agreed.
But Eyman isn’t asking Sound Transit to reconsider the tax or the election results.. He’s asking voters in places as far away as Forks, Bellingham, Republic, Pullman, Vancouver, South Bend, Shelton and Olympia to nullify the wishes of other local voters — and in his words, “stick it to Sound Transit.”
That sounds like a petty, mean-spirited initiative to us.
It’s hard to see this as anything but a fund-raising scheme from Eyman.
The takeaway: Sound Transit should consider a lower tax that reflects real costs of vehicles. Eyman should hike back home. And voters in the three Sound Transit counties should separately sort out their governance problems with the transit agency’s board.