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Press Release

    INITIATIVE 747 FACT SHEET

    09/26/2006

    Background 

    Initiative 747 was approved by voters in 2001. It imposed a one percent limit on increases in property tax levies beginning 2002. The initiative does not limit additional tax revenue coming to local governments from the valuation on new construction or from voter-approved tax levies.

    Voters overwhelmingly approved I-747 by 58 percent of the vote statewide. Initiative 747 has saved taxpayers an estimated 1 billion dollars since the measure was approved 

    On June 13, 2006, Judge Mary Roberts, King County Superior Court, declared the initiative unconstitutional. State Attorney General Rob McKenna filed a direct appeal with the Washington State Supreme Court. On August 18, the Supreme Court issued a stay of the lower court’s ruling. This means I-747 remains in effect pending a decision by the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has set opening briefs for October 18. and a due date of December 22 for final legal briefs.  

    If the Supreme Court decides to take the case and uphold the lower court’s ruling, the limits imposed by I-747 will be replaced by those in Referendum 47, which voters approved in 1997. Referendum 47 allows for annual increases in regular property tax levies of up to six percent. They may be entitled to increase tax levies by more than six percent in 2007 using banked capacity. Banked capacity is the difference between the one percent increase in taxes they levied under I-747 and what they could have levied under Ref 47. Small taxing districts could raise five percent more in tax revenue for each year they were under the limits of 747 while larger districts could collect one percent more for each year.
     

    What the Politicians are Saying

    “Citizens approved I-747 because they wanted their huge annual property tax hikes stopped – period. And it worked. (If the) Washington Supreme Court agrees with this ruling, local taxing districts will be able to jack up property taxes by up to 6 percent without a vote of the people. Combine that with skyrocketing property values, and people are taxed out of their homes. That is clearly what citizens were trying to stop when they passed I-747. “(State Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt (R-15),- June 13, 2006, press release) 

    “Republican will have a bill ready to pass on the first day of the 2007 session to put this property tax limit back on the law books:. We did it when the court overturned Initiative 695 … and we’ll fight for the people again on this one.”  
    (State House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt (R-20) – June 14, 2006, press release) 

    “If the ruling stands, (Governor) Gregoire said she and the Legislature would have to strike a ‘delicate balance’ in replacing I-747 — something that provides tax relief but doesn't pinch local governments. She said cities and counties have struggled to keep up with costs under the 1 percent cap.”
    (Seattle Times, June 20, 2006)

    “House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, agreed the Legislature would have to take action if I-747 is not revived. But Brown said her caucus likely would consider something other than a tax cap.”
    (Seattle Times, June 20, 2006)

    “Tim Eyman, who sponsored both I-747 and I-722, said he views the 1 percent cap as non-negotiable. ‘When the voters say 1 percent, they mean 1 percent,’ he said. Eyman said if Roberts' ruling stands, he will push a new initiative to reimpose the 1 percent cap.”
    (Seattle Times, June 20, 2006)

    “Republican legislative leaders today called on Gov. Christine Gregoire and their Democrat counterparts to convene a special session of the Legislature if the state Supreme Court does not move quickly to reinstate the property tax limits set forth in Initiative 747. “The Legislature has the ability to step in and quickly reinstate I-747,” Hewitt said. “People are nervous about the King County decision, and they want someone to step in and save them from this looming train wreck. If the courts don’t act quickly, we should.”
    (Senator Mike Hewitt - June 29, 2006, press release)

    Additional Information

    More information about I-747 can be found at the June 15th edition of the Seattle Times, “How Does the Rejection of I-747 Affect Me”