Eyman - he's not going away
As long as we have legislators collecting and spending our tax dollars, we're going to have Mukilteo resident Tim Eyman cranking out initiatives, asking for donations and making life hell for our elected officials.
From the looks of the recent legislative session, he's going to be around a long time.
Legislators grit their teeth and blame Eyman for much of their inability to get anything done, and for the billions in budget shortfall that forced an expensive extension of the 2010 legislative session.
Eyman says his initiatives have saved taxpayers billions of dollars in waste. Politicians argue that he's actually cost voters in the form of gutted road funds, a ferry system in shambles, and not enough money to pay for social services from public safety to healthcare to basic education. On his web site, Eyman claims credit for more than $13 billion in taxpayer savings through 2009.
We've tended to be in the anti-Eyman camp more often than not over the years. Wait, scratch that – we've been against many of his ballot measures over the years. However, we do take a glance at the man behind the measure just as we do when we elect our politicians. Character counts, and so do motives.
Face it – the guy is in it at least in part to make money, like him or not. But equally true is that sometimes his points are valid. When legislators roll back voter-approved initiatives, they're biting the hands that feed them.
When they attack the initiative process itself – a privilege enjoyed in just 24 states - they step on our constitutional rights to hold them accountable for their actions.
Eyman said his latest effort, I-1053, is creating a
groundswell of new supporters, many of whom will check that yes box next to an
Eyman-sponsored initiative for the first time.
Even some of those who didn't vote for I-960 are unhappy about the disregard our legislators showed when they "suspended" its provisions last month.
We're in that camp. We didn't support two-thirds majority for tax increases then, and we don't now. Simple majority is the fairest way to govern in a democratic system.
But voters have passed the spirit of I-960 three times now – and put tens of thousands of dollars in Eyman's pocket to make their voices heard. It's dishonest and disrespectful for elected officials to disregard those of us who pay their salaries.
If our legislators want the Eyman thorn out of their sides, they need to wise up in a hurry and remember whom they represent. If they don't want more of our tax dollars shorn from their budgets, they need to prove they're responsible with our money and that they respect our will.
There's a time when "we all have to tighten our belts" goes from cliché to insult, and that's when the person saying it has both hands in our pockets.
However, in the name of fairness, that two-thirds majority should apply to all tax measures, not just those that propose reductions.
We don't agree with all of Eyman's views, and we certainly disagree with some of his divisive rhetoric. His press releases and website are filled with jabs at liberals and Democrats in a time when we all need to pull together. But someone also needs to try to keep our politicians honest.
And whether in a gorilla costume or Brooks Brothers suit, he's certainly making our voices heard.