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PI: Group Forming to Oppose Eyman Tolling Initiative

By Josh Feit July 19, 2011

We missed this story yesterday afternoon. Joel Connelly has a report at the PI.com about a coalition of business, environmental, and transportation groups—calling themselves Keep Washington Rolling (named after the 2005 ballot campaign to save the 9.5 cent gas tax against an assault from John Carlson)—that's forming to fight Tim Eyman's I-1125.

I-1125 would regulate tolling. For example, it would prevent tolling revenue collected on one road to be spent anywhere else. It would also, to the detriment of light rail across I-90, prevent tolling revenues from being spent on transit.

Eyman sent out a press release this morning, including a statement from I-1125's main financial contributor, Eastside developer and light rail opponent, Kemper Freeman. Freeman has contributed $1.068 million to the I-1125 campaign.
In response to today's announcement by I-1125 opponents, Kemper Freeman reiterated his July 10th statement: "I have been a big supporter of Tim's initiatives for the past 14 years. I think they've done a great job of holding Olympia accountable for our tax dollars. But I-1125's policies and principles really struck a chord with me because of my sincere belief that improving our transportation infrastructure is vitally important.  Our state's economy will never reach its full potential unless we strengthen our transportation infrastructure and I firmly believe I-1125's policies are critical to making that happen. Citizens are rightly suspicious of tolls because of a valid concern that Olympia will raid such revenues during 'emergencies.'  That's why I-1125's policies requiring accountability and transparency are so necessary. Tolls aren't taxes and I-1125 keeps it that way. I'm firmly committed to helping the campaign get its message out to the voters over the next few months. I welcome the debate over I-1125 and feel very comfortable letting the voters decide.  I urge everyone to vote for I-1125 in November."

Eyman released this statement today:  In this extremely tough economy, taxpayers are hard pressed to pay for their existing tax burdens. The idea of unelected bureaucrats forcing families to pay thousands of dollars per year for 'anything goes' tolls -- tolls imposed on anyone and spent on anything -- is never gonna fly with the public. Voters rejected a state income tax -- 'anything goes' tolls would be even worse.  Like Kemper said 'Tolls aren't taxes and I-1125 keeps it that way.'  He's exactly right. I-1125 reinforces existing statutory and constitutional protections that some politicians have talked about violating.  I-1125 puts a spotlight on their plans in the hopes of deterring illegal and unconstitutional actions. Last year, I-1053 passed with a 64% yes vote.  Nonetheless, Olympia violated it.  I-1125 brings back I-1053's protections that Olympia took away."
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