Support building for temporary reinstatement of I-747

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the special session Gov. Gregoire has called for this Thursday to reinstate I-747′s vindictive one-percent cap on regular local levies. From a policy perspective, a hard cap on revenue growth below the rate of inflation is simply irresponsible. From a political perspective, this cowardly and ill advised capitulation not only makes the governor look weak at a time she needs to project strength, but it will make it very difficult for some in the Democratic base to generate the kind of enthusiasm Gregoire might need if Dino Rossi doesn’t stumble. I’m just sayin’.

Of course, the governor doesn’t deserve all the blame, as I doubt she would have called this special session if she didn’t believe she had the backing of the Democratic leadership. Here we had a golden opportunity to debate and propose progressive property tax reform that would truly benefit those homeowners who need it most, and Frank Chopp and company seem happy to just quickly sweep the issue under the rug and get back to the business of expanding the Democratic majority. Um… to what end?

That said, there does seem to be some good news coming out of the state Senate, where more than a few Democratic senators are voicing their concern over rushing through the governor’s emergency legislation. After talking with several senators and staffers, it appears support is now coalescing around a proposal to temporarily reinstate I-747′s limits through January of 2009, giving the legislature the time to hold the kind of public hearings the initiative never received, while fully debating various alternatives. This is a proposal I and many other tax fairness advocates could support, as it provides adequate time for careful deliberation. It is also a reasonable and responsible compromise that allows Democrats to reject I-747′s permanent reinstatement without handing Gov. Gregoire and embarrassing defeat.

Under one scenario being discussed, the legislature would ultimately put a referendum on the 2008 ballot, giving voters a choice between the existing one-percent cap and a comprehensive package that might include a circuit breaker or property tax homestead exemption that targets substantial benefits to the majority of homeowners. Personally, I’d rather legislators just do their job and legislate, but I can understand the political advantages of a referendum.

But whatever the final package, it couldn’t be much worse than what the governor is proposing: a below-inflation cap and a deferral program that provides only a short term bandaid, and to very few households. The problem is not that our taxes are broadly too high, but that they are too regressive, imposing the greatest burden on those who can afford to pay the least, and unless we address this core issue, our state and local governments will never be able to adequately address the many pressing issues facing the citizens of Washington state.

Comments

  1. 1

    My Goldy Itches spews:

    The zeal with which you want to fleece the taxpayers of this state is utterly appaling. You speak as though the politicians have some divine right to our money. This is why TIm Eyeman exists, because of people like you.

  2. 2

    cmiklich spews:

    Rate of Inflation?

    Let’s see: My property taxes have gone up over 60% in the last 10 years. Rate of Inflation?

    Somebody’s smoking dope. Most likely the author of this thread.

    The commie-demos are increasing spending waaaaaay beyond the rate of inflation while murderers run free, roads and bridges decay and collapse and kids graduating H.S. can’t even count back change at the store.

    60%? More than enough to cure EVERY social ill except one: Commie-demos in charge.

  3. 3

    Particle Man spews:

    cmik… your taxes could only have gone up 60% as a result of inflation in your assessed value and this so called 1% cap would have NO EFFECT on that.
    Goldy,a proposal which puts this issue on the 08 ballot is a bad idea. It would be a plus though to bring this issue back at the start of a long session and to look at Property Tax reform with time for hearings and carefull study. Limiting the annual % that a persons primary home value, barring major improvments, can jump in any given year would be worth looking at.

  4. 4

    rhp6033 spews:

    I would favor a temporary limit also, with time to study the alternatives. I would hope that we could do a comprehensive tax reform in this state which really means something, including a state income tax and corresponding elimination of the B&O tax and a reduction or elimination in sales taxes. Even if you do so in an revenue-neutral fashion, not raising any additional money for government, it would be a big benefit to the middle class and small businesses in this state.

    But I am afraid the temporary tax increase restriction will soon become like the “temporarily moritorium ” on new licenses for topless dance clubs – given the political cost of resolving the subject, many politicians will just keep extending the ban into perpetuity, avoiding any real resolution of the issue.

    Be careful of you you place lids on property taxes, they can have unintended consequences. You can see some of the problems in California which are still being caused by Prop. 13, enacted there back in the late 1970′s, which essentially froze property taxes as of the date a person purchased the property. Now lots of older people (such as my father-in-law) are discouraged from selling because they pay a miniscule amount in property taxes, compared with a young couple attempting to buy their first house. Since his mortgage is paid off and his only housing expenses are insurance and real estate taxes, it would make since for my father-in-law to sell his big four-bedroom home and downsize into a small two-bedroom condo. But if he did so, he would actually be doubling his monthly expenses, due to Prop. 13 transferring the tax burden from people who have held houses for decades onto those who have recently purchased houses. And when you take a large generational pool out of the potential “sellers” market, until they die, you create an artificial shortage of transferable property which drives up prices even further.

    I’m not saying that any of the current Wash. State proposals would have the same effect, I’m just mentioning it as a general warning, as we consider different proposals over the next several months/years.

  5. 5

    spews:

    All the anti-1% arguments being made now by opponents are exactly the same as those made during the I-747 campaign in 2001 — AND THE VOTERS REJECTED THOSE ARGUMENTS AND APPROVED THE INITIATIVE BY A HUGE 200,000 VOTE MARGIN. But just to reiterate our response to the tired argument: “but how can local governments survive at 1% – that’s below the rate of inflation?”

    Governments get property taxes from multiple sources — when all these sources are added together, it’s much higher than inflation. They get property tax revenue from the 1%, from new construction, from improvements, from annexations, from real estate excise taxes, from valuation jumps, and from voter approved levies (levy lid lifts have a 70% success rate with the voters). And that’s revenue just from property taxes. Remember, local governments get revenues from other taxes and fees — so it’s important to look at overall revenue — when you do, local governments consistently get revenue growth two or three times greater than inflation EVEN AFTER THE ELIMINATION OF THE STATE MOTOR VEHICLE EXCISE TAX (repealed by the Legislature in 2000) AND AFTER THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PEOPLE’S 1% PROPERTY TAX CAP.

    Make note of what Sen. Joe Zarelli recently released from his office: “Property tax collections have continued to be a strong, growing revenue source since I-747′s approval, rising at an annual rate in excess of 5 percent due to new construction and voter-approved increases. This is more than twice the rate of inflation during that time frame.”

    Many supporters in 2001 wanted us to go further and reduce property taxes, but we went with a compromise – no property tax reductions but a 1% levy limit which doesn’t include the property tax revenue government gets from new construction, improvements, annexations, and real estate excise taxes and with an additional exception for anything above 1% approved by voters at an election. It got 58% support, the largest level of support for any initiative we’ve ever done. It was a crystal clear mandate.

    So the 1% levy limit is the compromise — 1% is a given. The taxpayers have already substantially compromised. State and local governments have learned to live with the people’s 1% limit. Levy lid lifts above 1% by local governments have a 70% success rate with voters. So there’s no going back.

  6. 6

    proud leftist spews:

    Tim @ 5
    I-747 was passed 5 years ago. That is an eternity in political time. 3 years ago, George Bush was elected. He would not be elected if he ran today. The results of an election 5 years ago provide scant evidence of the electorate’s current mood. Voters make mistakes. I-747 was a mistake 5 years ago, and the legislature now has an opportunity to correct that mistake.

  7. 7

    spews:

    Taxpayers are being CRUSHED by our state’s crushing property tax burden EVEN WITH I-747′S PROTECTIONS IN PLACE. Imagine having property tax increases six times higher than what taxpayers have experienced over the past five years! We’re talking massive, massive increases which would decimate family budgets.

    You are absolutely nuts if you think voters wouldn’t again impose a 1% cap (with voter approval to exceed 1%) on tax levies — if anything, they’d support across-the-board property tax reductions. You guys need to look at the 1% as a gift compared to how far taxpayers want them to go.

  8. 8

    spews:

    @6…PL…

    Mistake? According to whom? You could say the same about every intiative or even every law passed since Washington became a state.

    The problem is less the whining and hand wringing for more moolah from local governments, many of whom don’t have the nards to say no to incessant demands for growth in discretionary services, than it is controls on spending for exactly the reason I mentioned.

    Without limits on revenue, there’s nothing to limit the growth of government, and as anyone with an ounce of common sense will tell you, government grows at a rapacious rate unless restrained.

    I think most taxpayers, if given the choice, believe they know better how to spend their money than do government officials.

    Of course, the representative government dichotomy continues to get flogged. Yet, those who do it rarely mention, either because they forget, intentionally omit, or don’t understand the concept, that the addition of the initiative process to the Washington Constitution coincided with the inclusion of language specifically codifying the people as ultimately sovereign.

    Via initiatives, the people become a super-legislature and a check on the elected legislature, the governor, and even, when necessary, the supreme court of the state. While this both frustrates and infuriates Easterners who don’t understand direct democracy, Westerners, who generally place more faith in the will and wisdom of the people, know that at times it becomes necessary for us to rise up and remind those in Olympia that they work for us, not the other way round.

    The initiative process was intended to be a check on special interests. In 1912-1914, that was big business as represented by railroad interests. Today, those special interests include big government, big labor (puny though its actual size is), and, again, big business. When those oft times anti-democratic interests converge, then the people are entitled to react, respond with an initiative, and support a Mukilteo watch salesman with a snappy patter and winning grin.

    In 1973, we did it to Dan Evans when he smeared Bruce Helm, whom he derisively referred to as a “Ballard furniture salesman,” which he was, but that’s beside the point, who spearheaded an initiative to roll back an unconscionable pay raise the legislature voted itself.

    21-years earlier, it took an initiave promoted by State Senator A.L. “Slim” Rasmussen to allow the sale of colored margarine in Washington State when the legislature, at the behest of dairy interests, repeatedly blocked legislation in Olympia.

    It’s really irritating to hear how the people can’t be trusted or shouldn’t be trusted to actively participate in the process. As the ultimate sovereign, we’ve collectively decided that it’s our right to participate, and, under the successor to Slim Rasmussen and Bruce Helm, Tim Eyman, that’s exactly what we do.

    Those who bitch about the results do so more out of sore-loserdom and sour grapes than sound public policy. What about the democratic process and Washington State governance do you not understand???

    The ability of government at any level to bleed the people dry and government’s gleeful willingness to do it make Tim Eyman initiatives possible. Those who bleat the loudest about him need look only in the mirror to see the root cause of him. If you had some restraint and respect for the people’s pocketbooks and purses, perhaps we wouldn’t be so owly and rambunctous.

    Maybe…but don’t count on it.

    The Piper

  9. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Of course, the governor doesn’t deserve all the blame …”

    Gregoire may as well do the right thing, because the bleating right will blame her no matter what she does.

    For example, this week they blamed the murders of that Graham couple on her, saying the WSP should have been aware of the killer’s presence in that sad town.

    It turns out the righty trolls — as usual — didn’t know what they were talking about. Not only was the WSP aware of Tavares’ presence, they had him under surveillance. A WSP officer spent an entire week sitting in his car across the street watching the property to see if Tavares was there.

    Why? Because Massachusetts had asked Washington to find him.

    The WSP officer was specifically instructed not to contact Tavares. That’s because Washington had no grounds to arrest him. There was a warrant for him in Massachusetts, but it was a nonextraditable warrant. WSP knew they couldn’t touch Tavares. So did the authorities in Massachusetts.

    Even the Pierce County Sheriff, who earlier criticized WSP for not notifying him, now acknowledges that his deputies couldn’t have done anything to take Tavares off the streets.

    Once again — as always — the trolls are blowing smoke out of their asses, criticizing Gregoire simply for the sake of hearing themselves talk.

  10. 10

    rhp6033 spews:

    RR at 9:

    Trolltalk:

    “My God, the sun is setting again! And Gregoire does nothing about it!!! Absolutely nothing!!!!! And to think of all the tax dollars wasted, and she can’t even keep the state in daylight round the clock!!!! I bet it’s all part of her plan to combat the fiction they call “global warming”, by making taxpayers shiver in the nighttime in a vain attempt to cool the planet! If we don’t get her out of office next, she will make it nightime 24 hours a day in Washington State! Only Dino can save us from that fate!”

    (If you don’t like the example of the sun setting, just insert your own words instead – “taxes”, “transportation projects”, “criminals”, “illegal immigrants”, “illegal voters”, etc. Everytime they think of an issue they think might get somebody to respond, they just plug in those words, and the argument is the same – logic be damned.)

  11. 11

    spews:

    My Goldy Itches – Read the post instead of just opposing everything by default. There are better, fairer solutions out there than a mindless 1% cap. Other options would reduce the tax burden on more people than Eyman’s stupid initiative does. That’s not calling those that voted for it stupid – they chose the only option provided to them. We’re saying there are better options. If Eyman wants to claim victory for forcing real property tax reform he can have it – but real property tax reform isn’t a mindless 1% cap, and even Eyman would surely agree about that.

  12. 12

    spews:

    proud leftist – It was 6 years ago, not five, and it was passed by only 25% of registered voters in an off year election. Hardly the “voice of the people” at play.

  13. 13

    spews:

    Tim – Most Americans are being crushed by a multitude of financial and economic factors, despite I-747 – worked wonders didn’t it. Not.

    We live in a time when the dollar is worthless, property values are going through the roof, the nation and individuals have rung up debt at record levels because the nation’s leaders have encouraged spending over investing, and people are defaulting their mortgages.

    Did home values go up because property taxes went up? Of course not. However, property taxes did increase very much because home values went up. Your 1% cap does nothing to address that issue. Face it, it was a punitive measure in 2001 intended to choke local governments, and not intended to solve the property tax problem. You handed voters free candy sold on short term thinking without regard to the effects. Faced with better options voters will approve a circuit breaker solution.

    That may not please or benefit you or your Sugar Daddy Dunmire, but it certainly will benefit the majority of Washingtonians.

  14. 15

    spews:

    to: Daniel K

    Your idiotic effort to minimize the overwhelming passage of our initiatives by dividing it by the total number of citizens is inane. That means Gregoire only got in with 25% or Patty Murray or Maria Cantwell — under your math, no one and no idea ever has a mandate because of voter turnout. It’s just stupid.

    I-747 passed 58% to 42% — that’s a 200,000 vote margin among 1.4 million votes cast. That’s a landslide victory. But it’s an even bigger victory because opponents radically outspent the good guys.

    Taxpayers are getting crushed under our state’s property tax burden EVEN WITH I-747 in place. They MUST impose a real 1% cap on property tax increases, no loopholes, no exceptions. anything less is a slap in the face of the voters who’ve heard the governor and the Legislature promise to impose a 1% cap.

  15. 16

    Mark1 spews:

    Just another biased rant with no valid argument or merit; merely Goldy’s extreme jealousy of Tim once again.

    As for Roger Rodent @ 9: ‘for the sake of hearing themselves talk.’

    Gimme a break! You’re the king of that. Your audacity and hypocrisy is almost a stand-up comedy routine. But since I know you do not know what work is, I suspect you will merely keep us entertaned in this forum. Also, you never answered my question from another thread: I wanted to know if ditzy Darcy whats-her-name accepted your gov’t cheese, food stamps, or your med. coupons as donation. Just curious.

  16. 17

    spews:

    One of the reasons Prop 13 passed in California is that property taxes in that state were rising so fast that elderly people, on fixed incomes, were losing the ability to remain in their homes due to the increases. The taxes were literally forcing them to sell and move elsewhere.

    Maybe you “progressives” don’t like Tim Eyman and I-747, but something is needed similar to Prop 13 in Washington.

  17. 19

    spews:

    Politically Incorrect @17 – There is nothing progressive about a mindless, and lets use Eyman’s own word, inane, 1% cap idea. A circuit breaker would provide the type of relief needed to ensure that people on fixed incomes but living in homes that have vastly appreciated in value, aren’t taxed out of their home. That’s what is needed here. That’s definitely something, and a far better solution that Eyman is trying to sell us on, despite his protests that he has the only solution (hint: he doesn’t).

  18. 20

    lorax spews:

    If taxpayers were as unhappy with their ever-increasing tax burden as Eyman claims they are, then why exactly is it that they don’t vote out the democratically elected local officials who set those tax rates? It’s easy for Eyman to attack taxes across the board while pretending that people don’t care about the services that will be cut–far easier than it would be for him to straight-up aim to unseat the elected officials he accuses of being tax-happy.

    By the way, the jurisdictions that have considered raising property taxes (the cities of Port Townsend and Olympia being the most prominent ones) voted against Eyman’s ill-conceived initiatives. Why is the legislature in such a hurry to override the expressed preferences of the voters there? Why does Tim Eyman have it out for the Port Townsend and Olympia City Councils when he lives in Mukilteo?

  19. 21

    columbo's glass eye spews:

    Well, if you want to change those property taxes downward, better look into a graduated income tax.

  20. 22

    Right Stuff spews:

    “vindictive one-percent cap on regular local levies”

    WOW! I mean, now it’s vindictive to want to keep your own money?

    Prioritizing essential services should be what local jurisdictions should focus on. Not hi-tech toilets for crack dealing and prostitutes, and certainly not for a taxpayer drunk apt complex.

    I seem to recall this past leg session the Democratics crowing about how robust “revenues” were, thus the outrageous increase in spending….Even with 747 intact.

    The only ones making noise about not re-instating the will of the people are those who advocate socialism and wealth redistribution.

  21. 23

    Steve spews:

    Let’s see…. even though the market value of my house has DROPPED about 15% in the past year my assessment has gone up 35%.

    1%, ya, right……

    The counties laugh at the cap… go try and fight a reassessment!!!!

  22. 24

    GS spews:

    The vindictive one-percent cap on regular local levies cost me 13% due to a lunitic Island County representative and assessor last year alone.

    Enough is never enough for these thieves.

  23. 25

    Bax spews:

    30-40% of the average property tax bill is voter approved tax increases. If voters are being crushed with property tax bills, maybe they should stop voting to increase their taxes.

    Notice how Eyman never runs any intiatives to cut programs? That would actually require taking a position on things. It’s easy to say taxes should be decreased. It’s hard to say what programs should be cut.

  24. 26

    GS spews:

    So lets offer a plan to extend even more credit at 7% to the poorest of households in our state, by giving them an automatic 25% of their property tax debt as a new state loan.

    These Washington state residents will just love and be standing in line to get new “Christine Gregoire Visa Card”.

    I am sure when they end up losing their homes due to all these crushing debts, the State Government will be first in line to collect unjust dues, or default on them and charge the taxpayers.

    What a Plan! Really, I have to watch this one….And Laugh out loud!

  25. 27

    GS spews:

    Sign Up here at HA and be first on Friday morning to get Your new “Gregoire & Washington State Visa Card”!

    No credit check required

    No financial solvency in you decreasing home loan value necessary

    The queen will now loan you 25% of your massive property tax load debt each and every year until you default on your loan!

    And worry not, the taxpayers will hold the bag and pick up your default debt.

    It can’t get any better than that!

    Be sure and come back Friday and Sign up NOW for your new Gregoire & Washington state Visa Card!

    Then get out on Saturday and do that Christmas shopping early, because now you all got an extra 25% credit with no property tax headaches or equity to worry about!

    And it never has to be paid back!

    Remember, it’s Your’s for FREE

    There’s No questions

    There’s No credit checks necessary

    There’s No home equity required

    Because more Debt and loan defaults is just what the poorest homeowners of this state need!

    And it’s just what the property taxpayers of the state need right now!

    Just Ask Gregoire, Cause She’s the Solutions Lady!

  26. 28

    cmiklich spews:

    @20…

    We do vote out the commie-demos. But, unfortunately, like Stalin, they count the votes.

  27. 29

    SeaBos84 spews:

    any dems are better than the fascists!

    that is why people wo wouldn’t break their asses for our latest sell out – cant-do-shit, u.s. senator, those people were ridiculed as helping the fascists

    maybe the dems suck cuz we fucking pee-ons keep supporting sucky dems?

    you are spot on when you ask – why shoudl dems get out there for shitty dems? funny how you derided anyone who had that feeling about cantwell 2 years ago.

    rmm

  28. 30

    FricknFrack spews:

    @ 5

    Just about fell out of my chair in realizing for once I ACTUALLY AGREED WITH TIM EYMAN. Unbelievable. The ground must be shaking.

    While it’s great to moan and groan Goldy (you must be a truly wealthy man!) why are you so determined that regular people should be forced out of their homes so they can go live under the freeways with the homeless folk? If YOU wish to hand over your every last dollar, go for it! Granted, your last dollar will probably just get sucked into just another lawsuit settlement when DSHA or the prison system ‘Offs’ another kid or inmate. (Does anyone believe all those lawsuits get paid for by the Tooth Fairy? Insurance doesn’t pay it entirely.)

    But we’ve got every last govt agency sucking every possible teat – State, County, City, Port – for every last dollar they can squeeze as fast as they could squeeze. It’s like a race between them, with taxpayers in the middle.

    Most of those levies everyone crows about passing with huge margins used to be general tax funds items, but the reasons for levy passings are that they are pushing the basics MUST HAVE items into the levy process (while simultaneously tossing money at frivolous bullsh!t like the SLUT carnival rides @ Lk Union. Like, let’s earthquake retrofit and build fire stations cause opps we haven’t been maintaining them in years. Of course, voters are going to quake in their boots and vote for such things. Must have a new world class library downtown (nevermind that the library folks were forced to do 2 weeks per year of unpaid time off. Couldn’t use vacation or sickleave, ‘off the payroll’ required. Yeah, I was there talking to fellow city workers as the library folks were getting ready for their timeoff). Must have a new City Hall, must have an upgrade for KeyArena and Seattle Center or we’ll lose the Sonics.

    The Port and the County sure didn’t waste ANY time jacking up their taxes as soon as the elections were over this month. We taxpayers need some kind of protection FROM all these govt entities. Otherwise, why don’t we ALL just sign over our homes, sign over our pension checks, and stand in the FoodBank lines?

    Would THAT make you happiest Goldy?

  29. 31

    Matty spews:

    @7

    So when are you planning an initiative to hold the biggest part of local governments’ budget single biggest part, salaries and healthcare contributions for firefighters and cops, to the same limit?

    At the same time local jurisdictions have done a great job at cutting fat from parts of their budgets and living within the 1% property tax, working on growth and other revenue sources as you rightly point out….they are being decimated by the way-above-inflation creep of collective bargaining requirements.

    And if anybody thinks collective bargaining can be limited because of a city’s ability to pay or can be blocked by negotation…think again. At the same time as these unions can’t strike in Washington their demands are enforced by binding arbitration and often exceed 6% growth per year!

    At the same time as you’re limiting overall tax growth Eyman…there are competing forces that are increasing their own take to the point that locals are having to think about closing senior centers, libraries, pools, and other popular discretionary items to balance the budget.

    At the same time as you go for 1% on the government side…think about initiatives to limit the demand side by the flag-waving heroes that can appear to do no wrong post 911.

  30. 32

    Steve spews:

    Just as she focused her campaign on the areas with the fewest voters and least likely supporters in 2004, Chris Gregoire is, through this proposal, working hard to get five more votes in Yakima, two more in Walla Walla, and so on in the various counties that supported this initiative. She is completely neglecting the interests of the many more voters in the areas that both most supported her and least supported this initiative. This is further evidence of her plan to run a campaign so foul that her last horrible one looks not too bad.

  31. 33

    MarkTheRedneckIsATrueDoofus spews:

    Attention all goofus kooks:

    1. Look up the total income for this state.
    2. Look up the total state tax bite for this state.

    We are about 27th. This puts us in the bottom half of the 50, for those goofuses who don’t understand.

  32. 34

    YIKES spews:

    Goldy is a silverspooned Philadelphia spoiled child who is embarrassed about the cozy life his parents gave him and is lashing out because he does not understand what it is like to know which bill to pay this month.
    If Goldy needs more $$, he just calls on the Family Trust Fund!
    Frankly, I pity Goldy. He does not KNOW of what he speaks.
    He read a book once about earning a living.