TORRENS TALK Give I-1033 the boot it deserves

Tim Eyman is at it again. Once again, he is running an initiative designed to decrease revenue to fund government.

This time he has added a major inducement to citizens. I-1033 establishes a mechanism to rebate funds to property owners when tax revenue collected exceeds the rate of inflation and population growth.

As required by law, the initiative only focuses on this one issue. Unfortunately, the consequences are not limited to one. The impact is huge and affects government at all levels and in different ways.

State, county and city governments would feel the effects directly. Their revenue cap would be immediate and thus would continue the low budget levels caused by the poor economic conditions. Over time, this will mean more cuts and fewer services to agencies already hurting from lack of sufficient operating funds.

Yet, Eyman maintains that state and local governments continue to take in far more than they need to provide services. He never, though, gives any clear direction on what areas or services should be cut to meet the lower fund levels.

It is very easy to say government has more than it needs and it should have no trouble reducing its budget. It is something else to actually identify the particular programs for cutting. Because when one does, then one has to be accountable to the constituents of those services and explain why they are considered expendable compared to others.

That is neither easy nor simple. And, it is not a position any public servant wants to be in. They are there to serve, not turn away, people.

Eyman has tried to make it palatable to voters by exempting school and fire districts, two local governments most people usually support, so as not to provide more ammunition for his opposition to use in their campaign against the initiative. Smart people will not be fooled by this sleight of hand.

For example, school districts receive the bulk of their funding from the state. If state funding is limited, so will be what is given to the districts. There is no way I-1033 will not affect school districts. It will just not be as immediate or direct as the impact on state and local government.

Eyman makes some fairly specious arguments to support I-1033, all designed to appeal to people’s emotions and not better judgment. He maintains that enacting I-1033 will get government off the “fiscal roller coaster.” Sounds good, but totally inaccurate. The roller coaster will exist, just at a lower funding level.

I-601 was not anywhere near as benign as Eyman makes it to have been. It allowed funds to be collected and set aside, not to be used, even when there was a need for it. Government programs grow in demand to public needs and there were times when the extra funds would have helped.

The “tax relief” generated by I-1033 will not help the poor and seniors as portrayed by Eyman. Since the reduction of the property taxes will be based upon taxes paid, the folks who will get the most benefit will be those who paid the most. That is not the poor and fixed-income seniors.

And, the idea that state and local government can just put a levy on a ballot to get needed extra funds is ludicrous. Schools and fire districts already must operate this way and those involved in those finances will tell you that is no way to “run a railroad.” Just holding an election is expensive, costing thousands of dollars that could have been spent directly on the programs that need them.

I-1033 is a bad idea. Give it the boot it deserves.

Disclaimer: While I am a North Kitsap School Board member, this column represents my views only. I abstained from voting on the issue of I-1033 by the board.

Val Torrens appears in the CK Reporter the second and fourth Friday of every month.

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