Opinion

Election yielded some clear winners

In Washington state, progress toward liberty and freedom are necessarily measured in small steps.

This is a state that’s so blue it was once called the Soviet of Washington by FDR’s postmaster general.

The roots run deep.

But there were some clear winners coming out of last Tuesday’s election, and here they are:

• Tim Eyman. He’s a friend of mine, and I like him (his new project, I-471, which goes against open-government, notwithstanding) because he’s a hustler, which is a good and noble thing.

He gets out and hustles to get things done. He’s not afraid to do what it takes to make the sale, which makes him the quintessential American entrepreneur.

Here, though, instead of widgets or overpriced caffeinated beverages, Eyman’s products are initiatives to the people.

On that score, he’s a kazillionaire.

His latest measure, Initiative 1053, which passed by a near-two-thirds vote of the people, reinstates the two-thirds vote requirement before the Legislature can raise taxes or fees that was in his previously successful Initiative 960.

The Legislature’s suspension of I-960 earlier this year, followed by a slew of tax increases, was opposed, per polls, by two-thirds of voters.

Two-thirds all the way round, it appears.

Some $1.6 million was pumped into the campaign to oppose the initiative.

Eyman, in the meantime, runs shoe-string operations that are popular only with ordinary people.

The net, net, net is that the Legislature’s too-cute-by-half tax increases have largely been jammed down their throats, and they’ll have to address the now nearly $5 billion hole in the budget by cuts only.

Payback is a you-know-what.

• Patty Murray. Say what you will (and I’ve said a lot), she is resilient. And as of last Thursday, she’s a winner after Dino Rossi conceded defeat in their match up for the U.S. Senate.

In 1992, when she first ran as the “mom in tennis shoes,” she was underestimated and dismissed.

Her opponent, then Rep. Rod Chandler, made some snarky comments about her during a televised debate that came back to haunt him.

She’s the darling of Democrats of all leanings, and, like Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, she sees her job as bringing home as much bacon as possible.

While the anti-tax, anti-spending fervor of 2010 dented her armor and delayed her victory speech by a couple of days, Bothell High School’s most notable graduate will serve another six years in the Senate.

• Tim Sheldon. At the combination Washington State Republican Party/Dino Rossi event on election night in Bellevue, the state senator whose name was uttered most reverently wasn’t there.

He wasn’t even a Republican.

Sen. Tim Sheldon, the maverick Democrat from Potlatch who votes more often with Republicans on tax and spending measures than he does with his own party, was whispered as the key to Republicans exercising control of the state senate should they fall just shy of controlling it.

Right now, it looks as though the GOP may need one or two more Sheldons to effectuate the scenario, but either way, his influence just got a lot bigger.

• Taxpayers. All the tax-limitation measures on the ballot passed with strong majorities, while tax-increase measures crashed and burned.

Only one sneakily-designed measure passed.

All in all, taxpayers fared well.

The two-thirds-legislative-vote-requirement I-1053 soared to approval by close to two-thirds.

I-1107, which rolls back sales tax hikes on candy, gum and bottled water, passed with ease.

Convenience store operators high-fived themselves all night long.

At the same time, the billionaire-backed, high-earners income tax measure, I-1098, got buried deeper than toxic waste at Hanford, and Rep. Hans Dunshee’s “Hans Bonds” R-52 to put green retrofitting of public buildings on a credit card was exposed as a humbug.

Put them together and it means that next year’s Legislature will be forced to balance the budget with cuts only, which, at this stage, means the nearly $5 billion currently projected shortfall won’t be paid for by increased taxes.

Social-service liberals and progressives in the Legislature will howl, but they will be powerless to prevent cuts to — or even the elimination of — their favorite programs.

State workers will also have a serious season of discontent, which is a switch from all the years state taxpayers have had one from paying for the generous wages and benefits of state workers.

Scott St. Clair is a freelance writer and activist currently working as an investigative journalist for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

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