This Washington

Eyman Responds to Inslee's Morning Attack

By Josh Feit October 7, 2011

In this morning's Morning Fizz, we reported that US Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) appeared to be running against Tim Eyman rather than his actual rival for the governor's mansion, Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

In his remarks at the Washington Conservation Voters breakfast (where the WCV took the unprecedented move of endorsing Inslee a year out), Inslee singled out Eyman and his tolling initiative, I-1125 saying it was time "to say no to Tim Eyman."

Inslee criticized I-1125 for putting 520 funding at risk and for jeopardizing light rail across I-90.

520 would be at risk because Eyman's initiative would only allow toll revenues to go to fund the road where the toll is levied, thinning out dollars for major lifts like 520. Light rail would be screwed because 1125 would undo a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld a deal to allow state transpo dollars to pay for light rail across the I-90 bridge.

Eyman shot back a response this afternoon:
Washington DC Congressman Inslee needs to understand that it is the voters who are approving our initiatives. Last year's Initiative 1053 passed with 64% of the vote. It was the 4th time voters approved its' tougher-to-raise-taxes policies. If you don't like voters, you're in the wrong profession. This year's Initiative 1125 closes a multi-billion-dollar loophole the Legislature put in last year's I-1053, ensuring that transportation taxes and tolls comply with I-1053's provisions and the 18th Amendment to our state Constitution.

If you don't like the Constitution, you're in the wrong profession. Polls show I-1125 gaining support (Congressman, polls show it LEADING in Seattle) because the more people learn about it, the more they like it. I-1125's policies are common sense: transportation money must be used for transportation, tolls on a project must go to the project, tolls must end once a project is paid for, and tolls must be the same for everyone (uniform and consistent).

For 100 years, these were the rules that built the I-90 bridge, the 520 bridge, the Hood Canal Bridge and are the rules currently in effect on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I-1125 simply keeps those tested, 100-year protections in effect. Tolls aren't taxes and I-1125 keeps it that way. Congressman Inslee will soon learn that in this Washington, citizens support the initiative process and believe that the government should follow the law and abide by the Constitution.

Eyman is wrong when he says tolling is constitutionally synced up with 18th amendment rules about earmarking gas taxes for roads. His initiative, in fact, would be a dramatic change.

Current state law is clear: Tolling money can be used “to provide for the operations of conveyances of people or goods.” This is the legislature’s fancy way of articulating a basic tenet that transit advocates have been pushing for years—roads aren’t just for cars anymore.

Legislation passed last year carves out an exemption to that rule for SR520, mandating that tolling on that road cannot be used for transit. Eyman’s initiative would extend that exemption to all state highways.

For example, the HOT Lane pilot project on 167—the highway just south of 405 through Renton, Kent, Auburn, and into Pierce County—is funded by toll revenue, which could be spent on transit in the corridor. If Eyman’s measure passed, that would no longer be the case.
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