Performance Audits make tax hikes unnecessary


by Tim Eyman

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Gary.

For two years, we've heard Gary Locke say that raising taxes would hurt our state's already struggling economy. That tax increases were counterproductive and that prioritizing spending with existing revenues was the only responsible option.

Now Gutless Gary says higher taxes are the way to go.

Good riddance with that attitude.

Voters have spoken loud and clear on taxes year after year after year, approving our tax cutting initiatives and rejecting tax increases like R-51 in 2003 (an $8 billion tax increase that got pounded 62% to 38%) and I-884 this year (a $1 billion tax increase that got killed 60% to 40%). Even rank-and-file Democrats said NO WAY to tax increases by trouncing Ron Sims in the Democratic primary following his crusade for a state income tax.

Dino Rossi showed that prioritizing spending with existing revenues could close a $2.7 billion deficit - it can certainly be done again with a smaller deficit this time. In fact, the state budget is actually bigger this session than last. According to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, the budget is $1.5 billion HIGHER than it was last session. So Locke is talking about an "Olympia shortfall," not a real life reduction.

We are prepared for the inevitable hand-to-hand combat with the pro-tax-increase, Democrat-controlled Legislature during the next session. There's no way to justify tax increases without first conducting performance audits. The "Performance Audits of Government" Initiative will be the taxpayers' best defense (and thus our best offense) to tax increases.

It's illegal in the state of Washington for us to learn whether our tax are being spent as cost-effectively as possible. That is incredibly dumb and it needs to change. Our initiative for 2005 directs the state auditor to conduct independent, comprehensive performance audits on state and local governments, their agencies, programs, and accounts. Over $40 billion per year is spent in our state.

What is a performance audit of government? The language of the initiative is very clear what information needs to be gathered and provided to the public and to legislators:

(1) identification of cost savings;
(2) identification of services that can be reduced or eliminated;
(3) identification of programs or services that can be transferred to the private sector;
(4) analysis of gaps or overlaps in programs or services and recommendations to correct gaps or overlaps;
(5) feasibility of pooling information technology systems within the department;
(6) analysis of the roles and functions of the department, and recommendations to change or eliminate departmental roles or functions;
(7) recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes that may be necessary for the department to properly carry out its functions;
(8) analysis of departmental performance data, performance measures, and self-assessment systems; and
(9) identification of best practices.

Let me say again - it is currently illegal for the state auditor to investigate, discover, and provide these nine categories of information to the public and to legislators.

Our initiative dedicates a small portion of our state's existing sales tax - 1/100th of 1% - to fund these audits. The initiative doesn't increase the sales tax - it merely dedicates existing tax revenues - $10 million per year - to fund this common sense reform.

The first $10 million in taxes should be spent to determine whether the remaining $40 plus billion in annual state and local taxes are being spent as cost-effectively as possible.

We must show the politicians that increasing taxes is absolutely absurd
- that prioritizing spending through identified savings from these performance audits is the only way the voters will accept closing the "Olympia shortfall" during the next legislative session.

Requiring performance audits of state and local governments will save taxpayers billions of tax dollars. The campaign for the "Performance Audits of Government" Initiative began on January 1, 2005. Petitions for the new initiative will be available in early February. To ensure you receive a petition, please contact us immediately and let us know your name and complete mailing address.

The Performance Audits of Government Initiative will change government forever and make tax hikes unnecessary. Please join our thousands of supporters throughout the state and make sure this initiative becomes a reality. Let's make it happen.

Tim Eyman is the co-sponsor of the "Performance Audits of Government" Initiative and heads up Voters Want More Choices, a grassroots taxpayer-protection organization, 425-493-8707,



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