Voters should reject Tim Eyman’s latest bad tax idea

Angel Morton is a Tacoma teacher and president of the Tacoma Education Association.
Angel Morton is a Tacoma teacher and president of the Tacoma Education Association.

Tim Eyman has been a one-man wrecking ball in our state, and his latest initiative takes his exploits to a whole new level.

Eyman's Initiative 1366 jeopardizes our children’s future by making it impossible to fund the education they deserve. The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that our schools are underfunded and that we are violating our children's constitutional right to an amply funded basic education. At the same time the Legislature is being held in contempt for underfunding our public schools, Eyman’s irresponsible initiative would prevent the Legislature from finally doing its job.

We need a real solution to our unfair and inadequate tax system, not an Eyman solution.

Our tax system in Washington is the most regressive tax system in the country. The responsibility for paying for public services in our state falls disproportionately on people who can least afford to pay.

Meanwhile, big corporations and the wealthy pay the least. It is time for tax reform, but I-1366 is not the answer. In fact, I-1366 will make it harder to make our tax system more fair.

I-1366 is designed to bypass our elected legislators and effectively change the state constitution. If passed and ruled constitutional, a two-thirds supermajority vote in the Legislature would be required to raise or recover revenue, effectively putting control of the state budget into the hands of a minority of our lawmakers.

There also is a strong possibility this initiative will be ruled unconstitutional, after years of legal wrangling and further waste of taxpayer dollars.

Ultimately, our children are the ones at risk if I-1366 passes in November. Voters have twice approved initiatives to reduce class size in Washington, and twice the state has been unable to pay for this educational necessity. Our classrooms are overcrowded, and students are not able to get the individual attention they deserve.

It is increasingly difficult to attract and retain world-class educators when educator pay is not competitive with other comparable professionals.

Our students deserve to be a funding priority, yet I-1366 will shortchange our kids even further.

This initiative has the potential to create an $8 billion hole in our state’s operating budget over the next six years. It could create more partisan gridlock at a time when all parties need to be working together to tackle the challenges our state faces.

I'm also concerned students won’t be the only casualty if this initiative passes. Funding for social services, corrections, public safety, mental health, state parks and higher education will also be slashed if I-1366 becomes law.

As a career educator, I care deeply about Washington’s future and the children of Pierce County. Our children deserve their education to be fully funded. They deserve social and health services that allow them to be healthy and safe. They deserve to be put first on our list of priorities, and that is why I am encouraging my friends, family and colleagues to vote no on I-1366.

Angel Morton is a parent, Tacoma teacher and president of the Tacoma Education Association, representing more than 2,000 educators in the Tacoma School District.