Opinion

Two ways to tell Olympia you’re taxed out, maxed out

Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman
Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman AP file photo, 2015

$27,293,865,541. That’s how much taxpayers will have to pay in higher taxes because of this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers went absolutely bonkers.

To put that number in perspective, from 2012-2018 all tax increases imposed by Olympia totaled $24 billion. So this year’s $27 billion is more than the last six legislative sessions combined.

And they did it at a time of record revenues and a massive $3.5 billion tax surplus. Worse, they waited until the session’s last day, in the dead of night, with title-only bills and no public hearings, to minimize public awareness and media attention.

It’s completely unacceptable.

There's no decision government makes that has a greater impact on our lives than when they take more of our money.

Here are two ways you can tell Olympia you’re taxed out:

1) Vote yes on Initiative 976. The voters have repeatedly set vehicle license fees at $30 per year. Those ballot initiatives kept vehicle taxes down for over a decade. But in recent years, politicians have been jacking them back up again.

If we don’t pass I-976 now, vehicle taxes will keep going up. We already pay a huge sales tax when we buy a vehicle, huge gas tax and tolls when we use a vehicle; it’s simply not fair to triple tax us with a huge yearly tax just for owning the vehicle.

I-976 also requires future vehicle charges be voter approved and based on Kelley Blue Book value. In other words, they’ll have to ask our permission and tax us honestly.

Politicians had 2 1/2 years to fix this dishonest Sound Transit tax and didn’t. The reason: The pigs at the trough – politicians, Big Labor and others – are just fine with dishonest taxes because they’re the ones getting the money.

Besides, the $3.5 billion tax surplus is more than enough to easily backfill any affected program.

2) Vote “repeal” on all the tax advisory votes on the ballot. There’s a lot of them this year. Why? Because in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2015, the people passed initiatives requiring that whenever the Legislature raises taxes without asking voters’ permission, there’s an advisory vote.

Legislators did that 12 times in 2019. In the voters’ pamphlet, two pages are set aside for each tax increase listing how much it’ll cost us, how each legislator voted, and their office phone numbers and email addresses.

On the ballot, government must print a short description of each tax increase, and voters get to vote on each one; you’re asked if you believe it should be repealed or maintained.

The News Tribune Editorial Board recently whined about so many tax advisory votes. I say blame the Legislature. These votes only happen when Olympia takes more of our money without asking voters for permission.

As for the TNT’s argument that since politicians will only ignore the voters’ advice, why should voters waste their time with these votes? Wow. Just wow. Under this absurd logic, why have newspaper editorials? Or public hearings on bills? Or elections, for that matter?

When my kids were young and I took them to Toys R Us, they wanted it all. I had to tell them we couldn’t afford that.

Government is no different. Politicians have an insatiable tax appetite. The people must teach them there’s a limit on how much taxpayers can afford.

Tim Eyman of Mukilteo is a longtime Washington state initiative activist. Reach him by email at tim.eyman@gmail.com or online at www.permanentoffense.com

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