Labor unions have contributed nearly a million dollars to defeat Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 in the final days before a ban on large contributions takes effect, filings with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show. If passed, I-1033 would limit government spending—and ultimately cut property taxes—but devastate state, county, and municipal budgets, thereby decimating funds for education and healthcare.
Tomorrow is the deadline for campaign contributions over $5,000.
Two reports filed yesterday with the state show $1.37 million in contributions just this month to the No On 1033 campaign. The biggest contributions come from the largest two unions in the country—the National Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO—which each gave $200,000. The donations bring the groups' aggregate contributions to the campaign to $334,775 and $329,519, respectively. The Service Employees International Union State Council also gave $152,500 in the most recent filing with the state, bringing the SEIU's contributions up to $290,000.
In addition, the Washington Federation of State employees gave $75,000 and the Washington Teamsters Legislative League gave $50,000, the most recent filing also shows. Numerous other unions—including ironworkers, firefighters, and electrical workers—collectively gave tens of thousands of dollars in the last two weeks.
Dozens of individuals have also contributed generously to the campaign in recent days. On October 1, Bill Gates, Sr. gave $100,000, the largest contribution from an individual.
In total, the campaign against I-1033 has raised a staggering $2,590,736—and they will need that sort of dough to stop Eyman's initiative.
Polling has shown I-1033 holds a strong advantage among voters. But that lead appears to be slipping. A poll conducted in late September showed the measure with a 30-point lead, but a poll conducted one week ago shows I-1033 with only a 12-point advantage.
The measure has an initial appeal. If passed by voters, I-1033 would cap state revenues, adjusted for inflation and population growth, and use the surplus to lower property taxes. But, in effect, that would lock Washington into a recession-era budget forever, and many costs would outpace inflation. As a result, state and local governments would cut or eliminate funding to health care, education, and other programs. The state treasurer warned last week that it would damage the state's credit rating and cost tens of million of dollars.
No On 1033, which recently began running ads on television, has raised more than any other campaign in the state this year. Most remarkable, however, is the group's spending power. It has only reported $107,304 in expenditures, suggesting the group will spend well over $2 million on running those commercials in the final three weeks before the election.
In contrast, Eyman's campaign—called Voters Want More Choices Lower Property Taxes—has raised $670,169 but has already spent $625,764 (mostly on paying signatures to get the measure on the ballot and conduct polling). In other words, Eyman is basically out of money. But he has public opinion on his side—for now.
UPDATE: Tim Eyman appears to be losing his shit—e.g., "Washington DC's most powerful government unions are seeking to buy this year's election"—about all this opposition money over at Sound Politics.