Take time to sign petition limiting Legislature's backroom, 11th-hour tax deals

At work and at home, we all have to make ends meet. We look at how much money we have and decide what we can afford.
If our bank accounts are low, we hold off spending, ask for a raise or save money.
Unfortunately, given the outcome of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers in Olympia don’t think they have to do the same.
The biennial budget that came out of the session will hit the $52.4 billion mark for the first time in history.
The new tax increases that go with the budget are estimated to be $25 billion over the next 10 years.
To pay for the massive increase in state spending, lawmakers saw fit to take more out of your paycheck.
We need to remind lawmakers who they work for and that we’re not all made of money. Initiative guru Tim Eyman of Bellevue may have just the means to do it.
In January, Tim unveiled Initiative 1648, the “Term Limits on New Taxes” measure.
He hopes to get I-1648 on the November general election ballot.
If approved by voters, I-1648 would — on Dec. 5 — sunset all of the new taxes imposed by the Legislature in the last 48 hours of this year’s legislative session. Furthermore, the measure would add a “term limit” to all taxes enacted in the future.
In short, if a majority of voters don’t approve of a tax increase, it will end in one year.
It appears that Eyman saw what was in the tax cards even before the Democrat-controlled House, Senate and state executive branch had decided on new taxes.
He hopes the measure will force the Legislature to seek the permission of voters if lawmakers want a longer-duration tax. But on anything lawmakers pass unilaterally, it’s one-year then goodnight.
Sounds like a good idea. After all, we — the public — are the employers and lawmakers are the employees. They need to learn that you don’t take money from your employer’s “wallet” without permission.
Eyman will have a tough time getting this on the ballot this fall, and he knows it.
He needs to collect 259,622 signatures of voters by July 5. That’s about 8 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election.
I’m not sure where he is in the signature-collection process, but given this year’s political and legal battles with Olympia, I’m sure he has a way to go.
In the “real world” outside of Olympia, we cannot just wave our hands and have a new pile of money from which we can withdraw. But it would seem that’s what the Legislature is expecting of us with these unsustainable tax increases.
At the local level, we often have taxes that are voted on every other year, such as maintenance and operations levies for school districts.
Voters approve or disapprove renewal levies based on how the money has been spent, the local need and the economy. So, it’s not unreasonable to require the Legislature to do something similar on an annual basis or ask voters for long-term tax increases.
Eyman’s measure puts the power of the purse back in the hands of the voters. And that’s something our state has needed for a long, long time.
And according to Eyman, voters agree.
He released an April poll of likely voters that found 33 percent strongly support a one-year sunset on new taxes, 31 percent somewhat support, 12 percent somewhat oppose and 16 percent strongly oppose.
That’s a winning recipe if the measure qualifies for the ballot.
If you see someone collecting signatures for I-1648, take time to add your John Hancock. Then in November, you’ll have the chance to decide for yourself if the state government needs more money.

— Roger Harnack is the publisher and editor of the Statesman-Examiner and Deer Park Tribune. Email him at publisher@statesmanexaminer.com.