“The only difference between you and Tim Eyman,” a prominent member of our state’s media/political complex once privately chided me, “is that Tim actually manages to get his measures on the ballot. That’s why he’s taken seriously and you’re not.”
We weren’t talking about my recent advocacy for a high-earner’s income tax ballot measure, which apparently is now officially dead, but we could’ve been. While a handful of state senators, a couple of representatives and one or two journalists deserve kudos for attempting to at least start a conversation on the issue, my posts were generally greeted in the halls of power with a dismissive roll of the eyes. Washington voters will never approve an income tax, and my exhortations to the contrary did nothing but chip away at what little credibility I had. Or so I’ve been told.
Regardless, I remain convinced that 2009 was the perfect political climate in which to put a high-earners income tax on the ballot—perhaps a unique confluence of reality and perception that won’t be there in 2010 or beyond—but barring the imminent donation of the half million dollars or so necessary to buy the requisite signatures between now and the July 3 deadline, my hypothesis will never be tested.
And that gets to the real difference between me and Tim in regards to our relative influence on Washington politics: the half million dollars or so necessary to get an initiative on the ballot. There’s nothing particularly populist or credible about hiring signature gatherers; all it requires is the money. And for the past several years Tim has relied on Woodinville investment banker Michael Dunmire to fund the bulk of his signature drives.
And why should Tim have all the fun?
So if you’re a rich liberal looking to make a splash in the political scene, have I got an initiative for you: a 3-percent tax on incomes over $250,000/year, 5-percent on incomes over $1 million… combined with a full one-cent cut in the state sales tax. No, it doesn’t raise much additional revenue for the state, but that’s the Legislature’s problem, not mine. What it does do is make our state’s tax structure a little less regressive, while putting cash back in the pockets of 96-percent of voters.
Using a sugardaddy’s money to pander to voters… that’s apparently what gets Tim taken seriously. And if it’s good enough for Tim, it’s good enough for me.