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June 10, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Freeman gives $500,000 to Eyman initiative

Posted by Keith Ervin

Tim Eyman’s anti-toll Initiative 1125 has received a big donation: $500,000 from Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman.
“For decades, I’ve been a passionate advocate for strengthening our transportation infrastructure and I like the spotlight that I-1125 puts on this critical issue,” Freeman said in a statement circulated Friday by Eyman.

One provision would forbid the state from using gas-tax-funded highway lanes for other purposes such as light rail.
The state Supreme Court in April rejected a suit by Freeman that contended high-occupancy-vehicle lanes on the Interstate 90 bridge couldn’t be converted to Sound Transit light-rail use.

Freeman was quoted in an email sent by Eyman to initiative supporters and journalists as saying he contributed $500,000 in May to the initiative campaign, Voters Want More Choices. The contribution hasn’t shown up on the Public Disclosure Commission website, but the site reports Freeman’s company, Kemper Holdings, gave $25,000 in March.

If I-1125 qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters, new highway tolls would require a majority vote by the Legislature. That would include a possible future toll on Interstate 90 to help pay for a new Highway 520 bridge. I-1125 also would block variable-price tolling and would require that tolls expire when a project is paid for.

State Treasurer Jim McIntire said last month that without tolls on I-90, funding for the 520 bridge will fall $2 billion short.

Eyman wrote Friday that the Legislature violated Initiative 1053 when it gave authority to “a bunch of unelected bureaucrats” — the Transportation Commission — to make tolling decisions. Voters passed I-1053 last year, requiring a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to impose new taxes and, Eyman said Friday night, majority approval for toll and fee increases.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.