Very scary - government doesn't know how many fees they impose
editorial by Tim Eyman
I-960 protects taxpayers in various ways. One of its provisions requires elected representatives, not unelected bureaucrats, to decide whether fees should be increased. Currently, the Legislature regularly delegates fee-increase authority to state agencies and lets them take the heat for increases. That's not representative democracy. I-960 requires politicians to take a recorded, simple majority vote on any fee increase large or small. It's exactly what county councils and city councils do.
Opponents of I-960 have asked our state government how many fees they impose on the taxpayers of Washington. Here's their response: "we don't have a comprehensive list of fees for all agencies statewide."
Here's an excerpt from the news story in the Olympian last week:
"The lawyer who argued unsuccessfully to keep I-960 off the ballot this fall has made a few public records requests for lists of fees charged by state government.
"Not much news there, except there doesn't appear to be any such list. Not even in the Office of Financial Management, which is in charge of the overall state budget.
"All of the fees that we charge at OFM are to other governmental entities for services we provide at the agency, so we're working with the requestor to determine if those are types of fees that he's interested in having a list of," said spokesman Glenn Kuper. "I know we don't have a comprehensive list of fees for all agencies statewide."
"The Department of Revenue does have a list of 42 taxes charged by the state, but not one detailing the fees that are charged for any number of services by other agencies. Then there are the program taxes, like unemployment insurance.
"They probably have a list somewhere, I just don't know where," said Knoll Lowney, the Seattle attorney making the requests."
If the government is going to force us to pay these fee increases, it's not too much to ask for them to know what fees they're imposing and to take a recorded vote on them. That's what they're elected to do. Then, if we don't like the decisions they make, we can vote them out of
office. But that system of accountability, called representative democracy, can't work if decisions are being made by unelected bureaucrats that can't be voted out.
Approving I-960 ensures that politicians will learn how much we're already paying in taxes and fees because, for the first time, they'll actually going to have to vote on them.
Tim Eyman, Jack Fagan, Mike Fagan, co-sponsors of the Taxpayer
Protection Initiative of 2007, ph: 425-493-9127, email: