On Wednesday, March 20, the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council announced we will have nearly two billion additional dollars for the 2013-15 operating budget. This news has been extremely well-received and has strengthened the resolve of the Majority Coalition Caucus to not raise your taxes. Despite reports to the contrary, we are close to reaching a budget compromise that will provide more funding for higher education as well as significantly fund K-12 education to comply with the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
Here in Olympia, the constant talk of budget cuts has all but evaporated, and we are able to start reprioritizing your tax dollars to focus on what matters most. Some pet programs may not receive the increases they would like, but we are no longer taking money away from vital programs and services. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the 2013-15 budget as it is made public.
The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council adopted the third revenue forecast of 2012 yesterday. It is essentially unchanged from the June quarterly forecast. The anticipated revenue collection for the remainder of the 2011-13 biennium is $30.47 billion, up $29 million (about 8%), and for the 2013-15 biennium the forecast is for $32.65 billion in revenue, up $23 million (about 7.2%).
Our state’s revenue outlook is still cloudy considering how Washington’s unemployment rate is on the rise again (see the next story).
The approaches taken by the incoming Legislature and the new governor will dramatically affect Washington’s business climate. If the pre-recession employment level doesn’t come back until “sometime in 2014,” as our state’s chief economist anticipates, it becomes even more critical for state government to live within its means. Raising taxes to enable non-essential spending increases isn’t going to encourage the creation of the long-term, family-wage jobs our state needs. Continue reading →
We’re now about two-thirds of the way through the 2012 regular legislative session and are on the downhill slope toward the March 8 deadline. I’m slightly more optimistic that we may not have another special session due to the fact that most of the budget proposals that need to be passed before we can adjourn on time are beginning to rear their heads.
Last week, the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council adopted its first quarterly state revenue forecast for 2012, which predicts the state will see $96 million more revenue for 2011-13 than was anticipated in November. Of that amount, $43 million comes from a bill the Legislature passed in December that changes when the state sells unclaimed property.
Additionally, there seems to be a continuing attack on the agriculture community currently underway. Though we’ve been able to defeat several bad bill proposals here in the Legislature, other attacks are coming from different sources. And there is a saying around Olympia that no bill is truly dead until the final gavel falls on the last day of session, so bills such as the genetically modified food labeling bill and the pesticide restriction bill have the potential to be resurrected at any time.