Eastside transportation leaders oppose tolling initiative

October 25, 2011

Local elected officials on the Eastside Transportation Partnership agreed to oppose Initiative 1125, Tim Eyman’s tolling initiative, days before ballots started to reach voters.

I-1125 calls for the Legislature to approve tolls rather than the appointed state Transportation Commission. The initiative also aims to prohibit different toll rates for peak commute times and to require toll revenues to be put toward projects on the road being tolled.

On Oct. 14, less than a month before Election Day, Eastside Transportation Partnership members heard from Bellevue developer and I-1125 supporter Kemper Freeman and I-1125 opponents, former state Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett.

Then, members discussed the presentations and voted to oppose the initiative.

The partnership includes elected city and King County officials representing communities east of Lake Washington. The organization is focused on advocacy for regional transportation issues.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and Councilman Joshua Schaer serve on the partnership. Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler, a Sound Transit board member, is the partnership’s Sound Transit representative.

Issaquah’s representative on the King County Council, Kathy Lambert, is another member. So, too, is King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Press Editorial

October 25, 2011

I-1125 is not the right answer for tolls

Initiative 1125 is one of those ballot measures that does so much more than put limits on what can and cannot be done with gas taxes and toll revenues. It’s one more initiative that screams, “We don’t trust our elected representatives to run the state!”

We get that sentiment, and encourage voters to hold their representatives accountable.

Tim Eyman’s I-1125 ballot measure is supposedly about reinforcing laws already on the books. It makes assumptions that the Legislature has run amok, bending rules on road tolls and taxes. It covers state bids and contracts for vessel dry-docks and goes on to specify that there will be no tollbooths. And then it slips in a little wiggle that stops light rail from expanding across Lake Washington via Interstate 90.

I-1125 limits road tolls to funding of a project — only.

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Eastside transportation leaders oppose tolling initiative

October 20, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 20, 2011

Local elected officials on the Eastside Transportation Partnership agreed to oppose Initiative 1125, Tim Eyman’s tolling initiative, days before ballots started to reach voters.

I-1125 calls for the Legislature to approve tolls rather than the appointed state Transportation Commission. The initiative also aims to prohibit different toll rates for peak commute times and to require toll revenues to be put toward projects on the road being tolled.

On Oct. 14, Eastside Transportation Partnership members heard from Bellevue developer and 1-1125 supporter Kemper Freeman and I-1125 opponents, former state Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett.

Then, members discussed the presentations and voted to oppose the initiative.

In a recent guest column for The Issaquah Press, Eyman said, “I-1125 ensures accountability and transparency.”

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Measure calls for tighter rules on highway tolls

September 20, 2011

Under I-1125, lawmakers could set toll amounts

Tim Eyman said that for him, Initiative 1125 isn’t so much about highway tolling as it is a continuation of the same idea he has been promoting with his various ballot issues for 18 years.

I-1125 would change the way state conducts highway tolling in several ways. Among other provisions, I-1125 would require the Legislature to set toll amounts — rather than the appointed Washington State Transportation Commission — and mandate that tolls end when the state finishes paying off projects funded by tolling.

Voters will decide on the initiative in November.

The basic idea behind I-1125 is that all new taxes or fees must be approved by the Legislature or put on a public ballot, Eyman said. Voters approved just those provisions last year when they passed Initiative 1053 with 64 percent in favor, he added.

I-1053 was Eyman’s primary 2010 initiative effort. The measure requires any state tax increase to receive a two-thirds majority in the Legislature.

He argues that Olympia politicians bypassed I-1053 when they let the Washington State Transportation Commission set the cost of tolls on the state Route 520 bridge.

But I-1125 opponents say there are several big problems with having the Legislature set tolling amounts.

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Teachers challenge supermajority rule

August 9, 2011

As part of the Washington Education Association, unionized Issaquah school teachers are parties to the suit filed late last month challenging the requirement that a positive vote by a supermajority of state legislators is needed to approve future tax increases.

Imposed by voters in November as part of Initiative 1053, the rule resulted from one of the latest initiatives launched by well-known political activist Tim Eyman. The supermajority requirement applies to both houses of the state legislature.

“The state of Washington is not following through on their paramount duty to fully fund education,” said Phyllis Runyon, president of the Issaquah Education Association, the local teachers union. “The state has not fully funded education for years, but with the current economic situation, the funding situation has worsened.”

The state already has some of the largest class sizes in the nation along with some of the lowest per-pupil funding, Runyon added.

“Eyman’s initiative that calls for a two-thirds majority to pass legislation to raise taxes makes the situation far worse,” Runyon continued. “Without new revenue, the state will undoubtedly continue to cut education.”

Opponents specifically argue the rule violates the state constitution, unlawfully impairing the ability of lawmakers to fund public schools.

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Issaquah residents defied trends in November election

December 14, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed just about everywhere outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct. The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

The information about the Lake Sammamish precinct comes from a detailed analysis of the precinct results in the recent election. (Issaquah is carved into 30 precincts.)

The neighborhood-level data — released a month after the election — illustrates how the Issaquah electorate bucked state trends on some issues and rejected incumbents even as the candidates cruised to re-election.

The dueling liquor initiatives on the ballot, 1100 and 1105, received uneven support from Issaquah voters.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — received broad backing in the city even as the measure came up short statewide.

Initiative 1105 failed in every Issaquah precinct and only managed to garner 35 percent of the vote statewide.

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City Council decides against property tax hike for 2011

November 23, 2010

The anemic economy has prompted the City Council to decide against a property tax increase for 2011.

The unanimous decision holds the property tax rate at the 2008 level — or $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes.

The council followed a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger to avoid a property tax hike for 2011. Members decided against the increase Nov. 15.

Frisinger proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a slight increase from the $29.8 million general fund budget in 2010.

The general fund is used to pay for police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Money collected from property taxes accounted for almost a quarter of the general fund revenue in the 2010 budget.

Overall, Issaquah residents pay $10.80 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes to the Issaquah School District, King County, and numerous state and regional districts. The school district receives the largest slice — 44 percent.

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City Council decides against property tax hike

November 16, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 16, 2010

The anemic economy has prompted the City Council to decide against a property tax increase for 2011.

The unanimous decision holds the property tax rate at the 2008 level. The council followed a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger to avoid a property tax hike for 2011. Members voted on the measure Monday night.

The city collects $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes.

The mayor proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a slight increase from the $29.8 million general fund budget in 2010. Money collected from property taxes accounted for almost a quarter of the general fund revenue in the 2010 budget.

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Press Editorial

October 19, 2010

Our recommendations for state representatives

5th District

The 5th Legislative District includes most of Issaquah, except for Cougar Mountain (It’s in the 41st District) and the South Cove neighborhoods (They’re in the 48th).

Representative, Position 1 — Jay Rodne. We can find no reason to oust Rodne at this time. His challenger, Gregory Hoover, is no match for Rodne’s knowledge regarding the issues. Rodne’s record of voting pro-business and working for education reform stands out. When not in Olympia, Rodne is entrenched in his community as a leader and a volunteer.

Representative, Position 2 — Glenn Anderson. There is no hidden agenda with Anderson — he calls it like it is, even if it’s not what you want to hear. But there is no doubt that he is knowledgeable and passionate about this commitment to represent the 5th District. He is a tireless worker for education funding solutions. Challenger David Spring’s drive is also about education, but he fails to bring solutions to the table.

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Off the Press

October 5, 2010

Failed initiatives feature tapeworm, ninja gear

The list of numbers on the November ballot reads a little bit like a secret code ready to be cracked: 1053, 1082, 1098, 1100. I could continue.

The nine initiatives, resolutions and the referendum on the ballot contain something for everybody: tax hikes, tax rollbacks, liquor, funding for “green” schools, tougher bail rules for dangerous felons and liquor (again).

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