King County warned its public employee unions that the only way to avoid big layoffs in their departments was to make wage concessions; most complied, but the Police Officers Guild, representing sheriffs deputies, refused.
Then King County warned voters that the only way to avoid deep cuts to the Sheriffs Office and the rest of the criminal justice system—which consumes 76 percent of the county's general fund—was to approve a two-tenths of a cent sales tax increase. Voters declined.
So with property tax revenues stagnating, sales tax revenues plummeting and 87 percent of county funds dedicated by law to specific purposes, how does Republican Councilman Reagan Dunn react to budget negotiations that make clear that the departments that consume over three quarters of the budget would suffer about three quarters of the cuts? He walks out.
One budget-team member, Reagan Dunn, walked out of a meeting last week and declined to attend subsequent meetings after other members refused to shift money to the Sheriff's Office from other departments.
What...? You just took your ball and went home, Reagan? Is that the sorta brand of bold leadership you plan to campaign on when you run for Attorney General (or possibly Congress) in 2012?
If the proposed budget is adopted, Dunn said, "We're going to create the lowest level of police services anywhere in the state in unincorporated King County. For someone whose wife and baby boy live in unincorporated King County, like many other citizens I'm very concerned. We rely on local government to keep the community safe. ... I think we've created a budget that doesn't meet the minimum standards here."
Dunn opposed the sales tax increase—even opposed putting it on the ballot—and I didn't see him pressuring the Police Officers Guild (one of the few public employee unions that consistently endorses Republicans) to make the same sorta wage concessions that, say, Metro bus drivers gave up. So honestly Reagan, what the fuck did you think was gonna happen? Did you really think that the county could slash another 10 percent from the general fund without touching the departments that eat the bulk of its budget?
As for your public safety argument, well, if Sheriff Sue Rahr's numbers are even remotely accurate, and the proposed budget cuts do reduce the number of deputies to 0.65 per 1,000 in unincorporated King County compared to an average more than twice that in the county's cities, well, maybe you should move your wife and baby into a city like Seattle or Mercer Island where voters are more willing to tax themselves to pay for the basic services they want?
You know, either that, or you could provide some common sense leadership for a change, instead of just lazily pushing that familiar knee-jerk, anti-tax Republican line, and then running away in tears once confronted with the inevitable consequences.
I'm just sayin'.