October 16, 2009 Volume 110 Number 20

Union volunteers help in campaign to quash Washington tax initiative

Union members in Southwest Washington are fully engaged in the “No on I-1033” campaign. The statewide initiative is on the November General Election ballot.

I-1033 is the work of initiative profiteer Tim Eyman, and would limit increases in state and local government revenues to a formula based on inflation and population growth. Eyman is trying to cast the measure as a necessary restraint on state government spending, but the initiative’s result would be a crippling blow to counties and cities as well.

The nonpartisan Washington State Office of Financial Management estimates the state would lose $5.9 billion over the next five years. Cities are expected to lose $2.1 billion and counties another $694 million.

Union officials say I-1033 would permanently lock in billions of dollars in recessionary cuts to education and social services, fire and police, parks, roads, and other infrastructure.

“It would kill job growth and cut public services,” said Shannon Walker, president of the Clark, Skamania, West Klickitat Central Labor Council. “Our economy is already unstable. It’s starting to get better, but this initiative could make it worse.”

I-1033 is similar to the misnamed “taxpayer bill of rights” (TABOR) passed in Colorado several years ago that ultimately forced drastic cuts in public services in that state.

That is why organized labor has joined a wide range of business and religious leaders, educators, advocates for the mentally impaired, environmental, civic and other groups in denouncing I-1033.

A Washington State Labor Council fact sheet says that by imposing the cap when revenue is down due to the recession, the initiative “would lock in thousands of layoffs among teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, road maintenance and other public service workers,” and also lead to a ripple effect of private sector job losses. Those who kept their jobs would be stuck with unpaid leave, furloughs and pay cuts.

Walker is asking union members in Clark County to volunteer for phone banking Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the International Air & Hospitality Academy, 2901 E Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver.

For more information, contact Heather Melton-Stuart at 360 521-6255 or e-mail her at Heather@no1033.com.

Walker can be reached at 360 606-7317.

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