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Political Smell Test: Dahlquist says Bunney pushed biggest tax increase

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on June 17, 2010 at 9:10 am with 6 Comments »
June 18, 2010 2:55 pm

Cathy Dahlquist is making the 2007 roads-and-transit Proposition 1 an issue in her campaign for the Legislature.

Her opponent and fellow Republican, Shawn Bunney, backed the $18 billion transportation ballot measure. It would have raised sales taxes and car tab fees in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties to pay for highways and rail, but voters defeated it.

In a news release, she says:

Dahlquist noted that her opponent, Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney, was a driving force behind the largest tax increase proposal in County history, the RTID tax package of 2007.

“Pierce County voters in the 31st District opposed Bunney’s proposal for a $16.9 billion tax increase by a margin of 61%,” said Dahlquist. “People are tired of politicians losing sight of our priorities and just raising our taxes.”

Yes, Proposition 1 was described at the time as the largest proposed tax increase in state (and therefore county) history. The complicated part is that less than half of it, a still-huge $6.9 billion for roads, came from the RTID (Regional Transportation Investment District), whose board was chaired by Bunney.

The rest, $10.8 billion, was for Sound Transit projects. The Legislature required the two be tied together on the ballot. A year later, voters approved a larger transit proposal, standing alone.

The 2007 measure would have raised the sales tax by 0.6 percent – about $150 per year for the average household by one measure – and the annual tax on vehicles by 0.8 percent.

Bunney said building roads, like a Highway 167 extension from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma, would have been an “investment for jobs in Pierce County.”

He said: “To frame it in any other way, I think would be disingenuous. Maybe my opponent is confused because she has a lack of experience in the relationship of roads and what they’ ll do in our economy. Maybe she’s OK with sending our jobs and our tax dollars to Seattle.”

Dahlquist, an Enumclaw school board member, hit Bunney in the same news release for supporting a pay raise for county council members:

Dahlquist questioned the fiscal responsibility of Bunney’s votes to increase spending, even when County revenues were down.

“Mr. Bunney was even brazen enough to vote himself a 21% pay increase,” said Dahlquist. “At a time when most regular people are fighting to keep or find a job.”

Bunney did indeed vote for a pay raise for the county executive that triggered corresponding raises for county council members of 21 percent. He was able to claim one for himself since he had just won re-election.

It’s worth noting that the raises came in November 2006, well before the recession sent county revenues plummeting.

Bunney said: “It’s misleading for someone to suggest that that vote occurred today. It was five years ago under very different economic conditions.”

Democrat Peggy Levesque is also running for the seat, vacated by GOP Rep. Dan Roach.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. I also highly doubt the measure was defeated by a margin of 61% in his district. That’d be over 80% no vote.

  2. mchawkeye says:

    Shawn Bunney running for another office? I hope everyone remembers all the infighting and turmoil he helped promote within the Pierce County Council. If his agenda isn’t adopted he pouts, holds his breath, and takes his ball and runs home. I don’t think this man is a team player or takes into consideration the interest of the voting public. He wasn’t good enough to be elected as the County Exec., so why on earth would he think anyone would want him in the State Legislature? As far as the 21% pay raise, I don’t think it matters what year he voted for it, 21% is still excessive. Do you think he didn’t know he was voting for his own raise, not just the Count Executive ( an office he later ran for and was defeated)?

  3. redneckbuck says:

    Bunney wants to do for the whole state what he has done for the Sprinker Recreation Center. Bunney likes to pass the buck, leave tough decisions for someone else to solve.

  4. KatieMcGuire says:

    I am so shocked that the naysayers against Bunney aren’t even brave enough to use their real names. Please continue hiding behind some ridiculous screen name. (I am using the sarcasm font here)

    ‘McHawkeye’ can you give me some real, specific examples? Bunney only lost the Exec election in ’08 because of lack of Voter Education (the then Auditor, McCarthy’s job) on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) She then became Exec. Talk about a self serving person! In addition, Bunney sponsored legislation to defeat RCV the next year, as a cost saving measure. It was ridiculously expensive for what it was.

    Bunney was not the only council member who voted for a pay increase- the council passed it as a whole, in entirely different economic times.

    ‘Redneckbuck’ -are you serious? 20M for Sprinker when we need to finish 167? We are way behind other states economically and we need to update an ice skating rink? Right, that makes perfect sense. Let’s put the money where it needs to go- roads and infrastructure.

    And let’s quit the silly hiding behind fake names. Grow up and take responsibility for your words! This is not junior high school!

  5. tjnpuyallup says:

    Here is were candidates get themselves in trouble. Municipal funding (specifically capital roads projects) is complicated stuff. It doesn’t lend itself to bumperstickers and campaign slogans well.

    Now Dahlquist comes off sounding A) dishonest or B) ignorant of the complexities of public finance. Not sure which option is better.

    I looked at her website. She seems like a good enough candidate and all. She should probably just stick to talking about her own qualifications and ideas. Local goverment isn’t as straight forward as federal and state issues. When you go on the attack, you better know what you’re talking about or you come off as one of the two options above.

  6. mchawkeye says:

    Katie, you are obiviously a Bunney supporter, good for you for taking a side and making a choice. However, I disagree with your opinion.

    You say that Mr. Bunney lost the election because of voter ignorance. I feel if he had been elected it would have been because of lack of voter education. Since losing the election Mr. Bunney has insisted on cutting departments that did not support his campaign ( PALS & Public Works specifically). He and other members of the Pierce County Council have blindsided, ignored and belittled the County Executive in their attempt to usurp power. Had Bunney won the County Exec position, how do you think he would react to the disrespect endured by Pat McCarthy? Do you remember when the Council force fed their budget proposal to McCarthy and the public? They didn’t give any time for review or comment ! How about departmental cuts? Certain departments were forced by Mr. Bunney and the Council to cut 40%-50%, what percentage of cuts has Mr. Bunney made to his staff or the rest of the Council?

    As for the pay increase of 21% that Mr. Bunney DID vote for. The reasoning that he is not the only one that voted for it is rediculous. If seven people murder another person, do you go to court and say ” I’m not the only one that shot him so it’s OK”? The only real defense is not commiting the crime. He voted for it, while the raise for the average citizen was 2%-3%. Do I need him in the legislature? No thank you!

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