This week, I spoke with Tim Eyman on Initiative 1125. Eyman says it provides straightforward protections for toll revenues. Opponents say it blows a hole in transportation funding and is just bad policy. And the Office of Financial Management’s projections say it could jeopardize funding for some big-ticket projects.
Usually, Q&A conversations are limited to 15 minutes. This one went a bit longer — so when I talk to the opposition next week, I’ll give them an extra five minutes, too.
Q: First, what does this initiative do from your perspective?
Eyman: Biggest thing that the initiative does is that it follows up on last year’s initiative 1053. We did that last year, it was the fourth time the voters voted for the policy. It got 64 percent approval. That was about saying, if they’re going to raise taxes, it takes a two-thirds vote. If they’re going to increase a fee, they’ve got to take a legislative vote. It was the fourth time the voters had voted for these policies. It was just a long-standing debate and the voters said this is what we want unambiguously. During session, the transportation budget writers decided not to comply – they re-delegated the authority to set tolls right back to the Transportation Commission.
In theory, initiatives are good for two years. After two years, they can start monkeying with it. This is the first time I’d ever seen them sidestep a provision in an initiative within the two-year period. What 1125 does is the idea that it needs to be the Legislature that sets the tolls it can’t be the unelected bureaucrats at the state agency. (more…)