Opinion

I-1033 would impose real-world limitations

Initiative 1033 shouldn’t even be necessary.

In a perfect world, our legislators wouldn’t drive up the state’s debt by the day promising goodies to every voting bloc needed to ensure their re-election, and the voters themselves wouldn’t demand the government provide cradle-to-grave security and then balk at paying the bill.

But we don’t live in a perfect world, and these are far from perfect times, which makes mechanisms like I-1033 necessary in order to protect both sides from their worst instincts.

The initiative — the latest in long line cooked up by Mukilteo resident Tim Eyman to put the brakes on spending in Olympia — would provide the Legislature with an automatic revenue increase or decrease each year based on inflation and population growth. But importantly, the actual amount would be dependent on hard numbers, not the whims of humans.

And contrary to the claims of the measure’s critics, the limits aren’t set in stone. If the lawmakers can convince the voters more money is needed or wanted, then such voter-approved taxes or fees would be exempt from I-1033’s limit.

But of course, asking has always been a little trickier than simply taking what you want.

Really, when you break it down, all I-1033 would do is impose real-world limits — the kind every business and household has to live within — on government.

As things currently stand, the Legislature doesn’t actually prepare a budget in the conventional sense. It draws up a list of things it wants to spend money on, then it simply sends the taxpayers a bill for it.

With something like I-1033, however, the budgeting process would have to include the critical step of figuring out ahead of time how much revenue was coming in ... and not exceeding it.

Again, if lawmakers could be counted on to be responsible and the voters realistic, we wouldn’t need I-1033.

But they can’t, so we do.

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