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I-1033: Is TABOR Coming to Washington?

WEA says Eyman Initiative will devastate education spending.

By Tim Walker

The Washington Education Association is leading the charge against Initiative 1033, a controversial tax-cutting proposal on the November 3 ballot. If passed by the voters, I-1033 will limit growth in government spending to the state’s current bare bones budget – codifying recent drastic spending cuts in critical public services.

The initiative is the brainchild of Tim Eyman, a conservative political activist who is notorious in Washington for tirelessly pushing initiatives and referendums onto the ballot, including challenges to affirmative action and the repeal of anti-discrimination laws for protections for gays and lesbians.

WEA President Mary Lindquist says Eyman’s latest, I-1033, will be particularly devastating for the state. The current $1.5 billion cuts in education, says Lindquist, would likely become permanent – cuts that have resulted in laid-off teachers, increased class sizes and curbed bus routes.

“The Eyman initiative would keep us at the base where we are now,” explains Lindquist. “That’s way too low. Our state has already cut billions of dollars from our schools.”

Washington educators are joined in the campaign against 1033 by a diverse alliance of businesses, health care providers, fire fighters, and environmental organizations. The Say No on I-1033 campaign was launched in September to educate the public about the dire effects stringent spending caps will have on the on the states’ ability to recover from the recession.

The Eyman Initiative may sound eerily familiar to educators across the country because it is nearly identical to the disastrous “Taxpayers Bill of Rights” (TABOR) that Colorado voters approved in 1992. TABOR hacked away at education spending and student achievement in the state plummeted as a result. In 2005, voters reversed TABOR but the damage was done.

To help WEA fight 1033, Colorado Association Education President Beverly Ingle recently appeared at a joint press conference with WEA President Lindquist to urge voters not to repeat Colorado’s mistake.

“It is so bad in Colorado right now,” said Ingle, “that we are about $1300 below the average of where per pupil spending is in the nation. Before TABOR we were about $16 above the national average. We don’t want to see the same thing in Washington. We don’t want to see this happen anywhere.”

“Initiative 1033 would jeopardize our classrooms and students,” added Lindquist. “It will make it harder for our students to receive a quality education and succeed in school.”

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