Dunshee loses bid to run powerful committee

OLYMPIA — Democratic Rep. Hans Dunshee of Snohomish will lead a House budget committee next year but not the one he wanted.

On Thursday, he lost out to Rep. Kelli Linville, D-­Bellingham, for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful posts in the Legislature.

Linville will be in charge of writing the House version of the operating budget for 2009-11 and deciding what steps to take and spending cuts to make to erase a projected $6 billion shortfall in that budget.

Dunshee was chosen by his colleagues to be chairman of the Capital Budget Committee. He held the same position prior to 2008 when he became vice-chairman of the appropriations panel.

He will be writing the capital budget that pays for constructing facilities, such as sewer lines and college buildings, as well as buying park land and supporting art programs and community groups.

Historically, the capital budget, unlike the operating and transportation budgets, stirs little controversy because it directs money into every legislative district.

“It’s a place for me to do good for my constituents and the state,” he said moments after learning of the outcome. “We’re going to create jobs by building things.”

Dunshee had wanted the appropriations committee job. He seemed the favorite earlier in the year because he had been at the side of longtime chairwoman, Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle, who is retiring from the Legislature.

When Linville secured the support of House Speaker Frank Chopp of Seattle, odds shifted in her favor.

Dunshee offered no comment on the selection but said it may not bode well for the community’s pursuit of a new university.

“It does give us a setback because she was opposed in the past to us getting any money” for the branch campus, he said.

Also Thursday, Democrats kept Rep. John McCoy, D-­Tulalip, as head of the Technology, Energy and Communications Committee, and Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, as chairwoman of the Early Learning and Human Services Committee.

Rep. Mark Ericks, D-Bothell, was named vice chairman of the appropriations committee. Democrats also decided to rename this panel to be the Ways and Means Committee, which is what the Senate calls its budget-writing committee.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or

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