I-807 renews Initiative 601’s policies & stops a state income tax

by Tim Eyman, Jack Fagan, & Mike Fagan
Co-sponsors of Initiative 807 & Voters Want More Choices


Washington State - For years, we’ve asked voters to consider several new ideas with our initiatives. And voters have responded by not only helping us qualify these new ideas for the ballot but by overwhelmingly endorsing them on four general election ballots in a row. So, thanks to the hard work and determination of our thousands of supporters statewide, we all have dramatically lower vehicle tab fees, strict limits on property tax growth, and our elected officials are now asking our permission for tax increases.

This year, rather than offering a new idea, we are instead offering voters an old idea: the policies of I-601, an initiative approved by voters in 1993. If our initiative, I-807, qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters in November, it would:

· Reestablish and clarify I-601’s state spending limits (I-807 limits the growth of state government to the fiscal growth factor which is defined as the rate of inflation plus population growth – this formula was originally required by I-601)
· Reestablish and clarify I-601’s emergency reserve fund requirements (I-807 requires the emergency reserve fund to not exceed 5% of biennial (two-year) general fund revenues – this requirement was originally required by I-601)
· Reestablish and clarify I-601’s limits on tax and fee increases (I-807 requires any tax or fee increase to receive either 2/3’s legislative approval or majority voter approval at an election – 2/3’s for tax increases was originally required by I-601)

To their credit, many legislators fought hard to implement I-601. And for quite a few years, they were successful. But unfortunately, they were outnumbered and outvoted by elected officials who succumbed to the constant lobbying of people and groups who are ever-present in Olympia. As a result, I-601’s policies and principles have been eroded through recent amendments and various interpretations.

It is unfortunate that I-601 wasn’t followed more closely. As John Pennington, a well-respected former legislator from southwest Washington, said at I-807’s kickoff press conference, if the Legislature and Governor had strictly abided by the policies and intent of I-601 since 1993, state government would not be facing its current financial challenges. But on the other hand, he estimated our state’s deficits would likely be double what they are today if not for I-601’s fiscal and political discipline.

The voters sent a clear message when they approved I-601: that we didn’t want roller-coaster government spending. That we want the growth of state spending to be reasonable and moderate so major disruptions to essential government services would be minimized. That’s good for everyone. In addition, reasonable limits on spending growth provide the best defense against a state income tax. If they can’t spend it, they won’t impose it. Spending growth limits also stop a state income tax because the limits help avoid crisis decision-making (you can easily imagine an elected official offering this excuse after this legislative session is over: “I’ve always opposed an income tax, but it was a crisis, so I had to vote for it”).

We are at a critical crossroads in Washington and we are hopeful that our elected officials will recognize the recklessness of a state income tax and tax or fee increases. Washington’s economy is clearly sluggish and we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. During these tough economic times, our economy and our families would clearly be hurt by higher taxes. But income tax advocates, aided by many newspapers, are undeniably in the midst of an aggressive, full-court press to get it enacted this year. The voices in favor of a state income tax are loud, influential, and well-represented in Olympia. The taxpayers’ voice deserves to be heard as well. I-807 is intended to not only reestablish I-601’s policies but also to lobby our elected officials to use existing revenues more cost-effectively rather than raising taxes. When it comes to our struggling economy, legislators need to take the doctors’ oath: first do no harm. A state income tax and tax or fee increases on top of our current crushing tax burden will only delay the economic recovery we all want and need.

The team: Jack & Mike Fagan and I have all agreed to lead the campaign to reestablish the spending & taxation limits provided by voter-approved Initiative 601 (team member Monte Benham has been planning for a long time to do an initiative in 2003 that would require the constitution to be taught in schools – he’s very passionate about it and we do wish him well with his idea – however, Jack, Mike, and I want to continue fighting for reasonable taxation and spending accountability – we feel politicians will go back to “business-as-usual” if we don’t keep the pressure on). Our treasurer, who will oversee our campaign expenditure and donation reports and handle all other financial responsibilities, is Stan Long from Spokane who has extensive finance experience (the reports will be prepared by our accounting firm in Seattle). Also, we have put together a top-notch group of individuals who will serve as an advisory group for us. Steve O’Donnell, Bill Farden, Eric Phillips, and Jeff Kirby are all successful businessmen who have proven they have our cause, our movement, and our beliefs as their priorities. They round out our very effective leadership team and will help ensure the success of this critical effort.

Compensation for us in 2003: Nothing during the signature drive, something if we succeed. The top priority must be to use every dollar donated to get the necessary signatures for I-807 and require 2/3’s to raise taxes. So Jack, Mike, and I have all agreed to donate our time, effort, and expertise from November until June, 2003 to get the job done. If all of us (our leadership team and our thousands of supporters) are successful at gathering the necessary signatures for I-807, we will then send out requests for compensation for our work running the fall campaign. In other words, we will ask for your help if we succeed. We don’t know yet how much compensation we’ll receive because we don’t know how much all of you will be able and willing to give. We hope you will be generous if we succeed. So we’ll try to get I-807 qualified for the ballot, and if we’re successful, we’ll begin raising funds to ensure its passage and to ensure we receive some compensation.

We cannot emphasize enough how difficult I-807’s signature gathering drive will be. Our opponents are going absolutely berserk because they know the policies of I-601 are very widely supported. They’ve claimed I-807 would be overturned by the courts based on various legal theories – but these same opponents tried using these same theories to attack I-601 and the courts refused to overturn it and instead allowed it to take effect. Opponents know that legally, constitutionally, and politically, I-601 is good law – I-807 simply reestablishes it. Opponents have also begun their usual attack-the-messenger strategy. Voters have not been persuaded by this approach for four years in a row but frankly, considering I-601’s widespread popularity, it’s all they’ve got.

We have a well-thought-out, effective strategy for I-807. Taxpayers are counting on us to protect them from a state income tax and massive tax and fee increases. We can’t let them down. I-601’s policies are needed now more than ever. Say YES to renewing I-601’s reasonable limits on taxes and spending. Say NO a state income tax. Support I-807. Let’s go to work.

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If you like I-807, then print this out and send a check to:

Voters Want More Choices · PO Box 18250 · Spokane · WA · 99228
Ph: 425-493-8707 · FAX: 509-467-4323 · www.i-807.com
This is critical – What is your e-mail address: __________________________________
Your Name ___________________________________________________________
Address ______________________________________________________________
City, State, Zip _________________________________________________________
Phone ________________________________________________________________
Are you retired? (Yes or No) ____________________

We must have an early, aggressive start for I-807. Enclosed is my check for $_____________________________________
Made payable to “Voters Want More Choices”

Tim/Jack/Mike, I commit to gathering _____________ signatures for Initiative 807 – I don’t want a state income tax!!


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