Reagan Dunn: Reduce spending before raising taxes

County must make “hard choices” before going to voters

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn today issued the following statement clarifying his position on the proposal to put a .2% sales tax increase on the August ballot:

“It has been reported that I am undecided about putting a sales tax on the August ballot.  I am not.  Before I am willing to consider further revenue options, I must see some concrete action dealing with the real problem – year to year increases in King County’s cost of doing business.  We have heard for years, from previous Executive’s, that King County has a “structural budget gap” and all we need to fix the problem is more revenue. I have been saying that King County has a spending problem and must deal with its cost drivers, which are principally salaries and benefits.  Every year we make cuts to essential services because those services increase at a rate of nearly seven percent.  I have applauded Executive Constantine for saying he wants to reduce those increases to the rate of inflation.  We must now see some action toward that goal before asking the public to trust us with more money.

”In addition, before considering new revenue, King County must look at ways to offset new taxes with cuts in other places. King County taxpayers are struggling to crawl out of the recession. This is not a time to burden them further. Before considering additional revenue options, I would look at ways to reduce the existing tax burden.

“This has not been an easy decision because I care deeply about the safety of our community. King County is facing $60 million in cuts this fall.  Those cuts will fall heavily on criminal justice functions such as police, courts and prosecution. As a former federal prosecutor, it is difficult to see our criminal justice system cut. However, King County must make some hard choices before asking the public to give more.”