Eyman launches new referendum: 'Give Them Nothing'

Special to the Statesman-Examiner
Roger Harnack

OLYMPIA — Initiative guru Tim Eyman prefiled a referendum today designed to upend a recommended increase in the salaries of top state politicians.

With the filing of the “Give Them Nothing” referendum, Eyman will be collecting signatures to get the measure on the 2019 ballot.

Spokane resident Jack Fagan and Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan were with Eyman during filing, and are cosponsoring the measure.

“We have to get 160,000 signatures,” Eyman said, inviting voters to sign the online petition at www.givethemnothing.com. “We want to put it on the ballot and let the voters decide.”

The official referendum, which will require an actual signature, will be released Feb. 4.

The measure is a response to a recommendation from Washington State Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, comprising residents from each of the state’s congressional districts, businesses, organizations and others.

Commissioner LeAnna Shauvin, 72, a Democrat from Spokane, represents the 7th Congressional District that stretches from the Washington-British Columbia to Oregon, including Colville, Deer Park, Pullman, Spokane and Walla Walla.

Only one member of the commission is a Republican.

The commission is recommending raises over the next two years totaling 17.6 percent for legislators, 17.8 percent for judges, 6.6 percent for Gov. Jay Inslee, 13 percent for Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib as well as increases for others.

During an interview Tuesday with the Statesman-Examiner, Eyman said residents are fed up with the skyrocketing cost of government and pointed to salaries already far above most Washington state residents.

State records show Inslee currently makes $177,107 annually, plus about 25 percent in fringe benefits. Under the proposal, he would be making $189,186 by mid-2020.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst would see her salary jump to $228,816, under the proposal. Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib’s salary would rise to $117,875 and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal’s salary would increase to $153,750.

Other top state elected officials would receive increases, too.

“Politicians say they are just scraping by,” Eyman said Wednesday after filing. “I think they can make it. I have a feeling if they budget well, they’ll be able to make it.

“Jay Inslee will have to scrape by with $354,000 over the next two years,” he said. “How is he ever going to make it, especially with his subsidized housing (Governor’s Mansion).”

Eyman said he believes most voters would advocate cutting the salaries of state officials, but state law prohibits that.

So, “Give them nothing,” he said.

According to Eyman, state elected officials are building the salaries on the backs of hard-working residents while moving forward with efforts that contradict the views of Eastern Washington residents.

He pointed to the more than 30 lawsuits Ferguson and the state have filed the Trump Administration; the Supreme Court’s rulings on the death penalty, gun-control initiatives and others; and Gov. Inslee’s continued absence from state government, among others.

Eyman is hoping his “GiveThemNothing.com” campaign will prompt residents to turn out for the four salary commission meetings planned.

The closest session to Stevens County will take place from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Hilton Garden in Spokane.

“Feb. 4 in Olympia is when they would formally adopt their proposal,” Eyman said. “They are trying to keep this quiet. But we’re going to do everything we can to put a spotlight on it.”

He’s also hoping fed-up residents will email their commission members and request the recommendation be withdrawn and "give them nothing."

To contact 5th Congressional District commission representative Shauvin, email Leanna.shauvin@salalaries.wa.gov.

“Your politicians are going to get a 20-percent bonus unless you do something,” Eyman said. “We’re not going to leave them destitute.”