Guest Column

October 18, 2011

By Tim Eyman

I-1125 ensures accountability, transparency in Olympia

Olympia still doesn’t get it. Four times the voters have approved initiatives requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes and a majority vote to increase fees. Four times. Yet despite 1053’s 64 percent yes vote last year, Olympia repeatedly violated it. Initiative 1125 closes loopholes that were put in 1053. I-1125 requires, again, that fee increases be decided by elected representatives of the people, not unelected bureaucrats at state agencies.

I-1125 ensures accountability and transparency.

I-1125 requires transportation taxes only be used for transportation. Our state imposes one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, collecting billions every year. Before the government double-taxes us with burdensome tolls — forcing us to pay twice — I-1125 stops transportation revenue from being diverted to nontransportation purposes.

In the entire history of our state, tolls have always expired after a project is paid for. Whether it was the original Interstate 90 bridge, the 520 bridge or the Hood Canal Bridge, there was no such thing as never-ending tolls — for nearly 100 years, once a project was paid for, the toll was taken off.

But in 2008, Olympia repealed that protection, creating for the first time tolls that will continue forever — once a toll is imposed, it will never go away.

That radical change in tolling policy was imposed with little to no public notice. I-1125 puts a bright spotlight on that radical change and gives the voters the chance to reinstate that basic protection. I-1125 prohibits never-ending tolls, requiring (again) that tolls expire once the project is paid for.

For months, we’ve been highlighting politicians’ efforts to take from struggling taxpayers billions of dollars of new money — using the term “tolls” but having those new charges function like taxes.

Tolls are fees paid by users of a specific project to pay for that project (requiring majority legislative approval) — taxes are imposed on anyone and spent on anything (requiring two-thirds legislative approval).

Tolls aren’t taxes and I-1125 keeps it that way:

  • I-1125 prohibits never-ending tolls, reinstating the 100-year-old protection where tolls expire once its project is paid for.
  • I-1125 (like current law already requires) ensures that tolls be project-specific — tolls on one project cannot be diverted and spent somewhere else.
  • I-1125 (like last year’s I-1053 required before Olympia sidestepped it) re-requires that tolls be decided by the elected representatives of the people, not six unelected bureaucrats handpicked by Gov. Chris Gregoire for an unaccountable Transportation Commission.

Politicians are seriously out of touch if they think citizens will accept auto-pilot, never-ending tolls without any accountability or transparency.

In these tough times, the idea of government taking thousands of dollars per year out of family budgets is really scary. People are hurting, and yet Olympia is nonetheless sneaking forward with “tolls” that are just taxes by another name. I-1125 stops them from violating the law.

Before this year’s session began, Gregoire said: “I’m not gonna let 1053 stand in the way of me moving forward for what I think is right.” Voters approved Initiative 1053 by a huge margin — don’t let Olympia get away with violating it. Vote yes (again).

Approve Initiative 1125.

Tim Eyman is one of the cosponsors of “Son of 1053” I-1125. Call 493-9127 or go to www.voterswantmorechoices.com.

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