Reader takes issue with I-695 editorial

Letter to the Editor

Watch while I pick apart Jim McKiernan’s editorial (“I-695 not

a bargain,” Snoqualmie Valley Record, Sept. 2, 1999).

McKiernan: “Another tax will pop up somewhere (if I-695 passes),

and it is likely to be a state income tax.”

Our state constitution explicitly prohibits an income tax. It is very

difficult in Washington to change the constitution. It takes two-thirds of

the State House, two-thirds of the State Senate, and a vote of the people.

Only two times in our state’s history have the politicians tried, and the last

time the voters voted it down in every county and every legislative district.

“Last time I checked, we elected our officials based on their stand

on the issues … That’s how democracy works.”

That’s how a republic works, and that is the form of government

we have. In a true democracy, everyone would vote on every issue.

I-695 would take us a step closer to that.

“So now we are looking at a committee for every decision. Have

you ever participated in a group setting where the group had to come to a

consensus and make a decision?”

Good. The less government does to me, the better government works

for me. Politicians will now be required to prioritize and put forward the

most essential tax increases. Citizens will be able to participate more fully

and have a greater sense of community, rather than feeling powerless and


“So don’t you suppose the subtracting over $750 million out of

the Calendar Year 2000 budget will cause our lawmakers to react in a

drastic way?”

If they do, then they are overreacting. I-695 will reduce state revenue

by about 2.5 percent over the biennium. I don’t recall the County Assessor,

or anyone else in government for that matter, asking me if I could afford

a 10 percent increase in my property taxes last year.

If the representatives in Olympia argue that they cannot live with a

2.5 percent reduction in the state budget, then they are implying that they

are operating at 100 percent efficiency! How arrogant is that?

“If I-695 passes, that person in the lane next to you driving a

$60,000 Mercedes will be paying the same amount for licensing their vehicle

as you, driving a 1978 Chevy pickup.”

Do you have something against the guy in the Mercedes? Playing

the game of class envy?

The guy in the lane next to you driving the Mercedes may just be

on his way to buy goods or services from an advertiser in your newspaper.

Thus, keeping that advertiser’s business, your newspaper and the state

government – via a sales tax on the transaction – all running. That’s how

our economy works.

A lot of that money will end up in state and county coffers

anyway through increased consumer spending. I stand to save about $40 on

licensing of my two vehicles once I-695 passes. However, maybe then I will be able

to afford one or two new vehicles that are safer and pollute less than the

1984 and 1985 model year vehicles that I now own.

“But even more ridiculous about I-695 is its desire to set a flat rate

for motor vehicle licensing.”

Why? One dog – one dog licensing fee.

The purchaser of a new or used car in King County is already paying a

8.6 percent sales tax when the vehicle is purchased. The insidious thing

about the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) is that when you buy a new car,

you pay 2.2 percent tax on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail

Price (MSRP) for the first two years. The MVET neither takes into

consideration the true purchase price, which is always negotiated below the

MSRP, nor does it consider vehicle depreciation in the first two years!

“North Bend can expect to lose $47,000 in Calendar Year 2000 due

to I-695, Snoqualmie $22,000, Carnation $27,000 and Duvall $175,000 …

Even schools in the state can expect to lose over $5 million in funding.”

If the MVET revenue was going towards building roads to relieve

congestion, then there might not be this much opposition to the tax.

Never mind how many empty buses you see on the road. Never

mind that the state ferry system consumes a disproportionate amount of

money spent on transportation, and consists of little more than a bunch of

floating holes upon the water into which the taxpayers pour money. Over 20

percent of the MVET revenue goes to something other than transportation.

“The concern is that after the impacts of I-695 are felt, opponents of

I-601 will step forward and force lawmakers to override both

initiatives when the state is in a dire financial crisis.”

I-695 strengthens and extends the protections in Initiative 601. Passed

in 1993, Initiative 601 caps state government spending, but only for the

state’s General Fund budget. It does not protect taxpayers from excessive

spending in off-budget accounts or the county budgets and city budgets.

I-695 limits excessive taxation at all levels of government, ensuring the

taxpayer is protected.

“One last concern I have is the lack of control that our elected officials,

and ultimately ourselves, will have over what propositions may hit the

ballot for funds. Organizations and individuals with lots of money and

lobbying power will be able to get things on the ballot very easily … Do you really

want big money to have more control than they do now?”

First of all, this was a completely grassroots effort. No one was paid

to collect signatures.

Secondly, “big money” is opposing this initiative. Organized big

business, big labor, big government and small town four-bit newspapers

like this one all oppose I-695.

“I-695 is a poorly written excuse for an initiative dreamed up by

a poorly informed, vengeful group that doesn’t want to pay their own way

for the benefits we enjoy in Washington. Vote NO on I-695.”

I didn’t write it up, but as you can see, I am well informed; now you

are too.

As far as vengeful goes, personally, I am guilty as charged. I am

willing to pay for roads, emergency services and schools. I am not willing

to pay and pay and pay.

Vote YES on I-695!

Brian Fangman