06 January, 2011

Tim Eyman may actually be right this time

For the most part, I have considered Eyman to be a villain. An enemy of infrastructure, who seeks to work every angle to make sure that the state is strangled for funds. That's been my general attitude. But, on one particular topic, I think he may be correct.

The proposed tolls for SR-520 were to be imposed by the Transportation Commission. These are not elected officials. They are appointed officials. Given that a toll is a type of fee, the recent initiative (1053, penned by Eyman) would require that the legislature vote on all fee increases. He's now arguing, therefore, that the toll must be approved by the legislature. And he's probably going to be successful in making sure that it does go to a vote. Unfortunately, political pressure on members of the legislature will make it very unpopular for them to vote in favor of the toll. If the toll is rejected, then there will be a shortfall of funding in the state. How will they make up the gap? Probably, they'll have to make cuts in the budget, unless they run a deficit (which I'm not even sure the state is allowed to do, right?).

So, this would be bad, right? We need that toll! Or else we can't balance the budget and get the necessary projects completed.

True. But I think that what Eyman's initiative does is to force the members of the legislature to take a stance on what they support or do not support. They'd all be happy to sit "Mum" while the Commission imposes the tax, because then nobody's hands are dirty with making people pay more.

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