Two nice facts about Washington's economy

The BLS reports that average weekly earnings for private nonfarm employees was $1,048.73 in Washington in 2016. This ranked 1st among the 50 states. (Link)

Washington’s average weekly earnings for production workers on manufacturing payrolls was a bit higher, $1,099.07, which ranked 3rd among the states. (Link)

Budget amendments adopted by Ways & Means include added funds for HEN, ECEAP and medical schools

Yesterday SB 5048, the 2017–19 operating budget bill, was passed out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Here’s a broad overview of the proposal as introduced, and here are more details.

Common Ground podcast: Rep. Drew Stokesbary

We're delighted to welcome state Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) to the podcast. As soon as we saw all the "Arrested Development" gifs populating his Twitter feed we knew he'd be the perfect guest. We sat down at the state Capitol in Olympia to chat about him being a younger member of the Legislature, how he got into politics and government, and his approach to working across the aisle. Other random topics of discussion: Kim Jon Un and Dick Cheney. Plus, Drew fits in a reference to "The Office" and we totally miss it.

Policy Today podcast: How Tax Policy Affects the Economy

In this episode we discuss our recent Special Report, "Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality." Too often, adjustments to our state tax system are portrayed simply as "breaks" that give certain industries and/or companies special treatment. But as our report shows, these adjustments play a crucial role in keeping Washington competitive with other states for jobs and economic activity that could very easily go elsewhere.

More from the Senate budget proposal

The Senate Ways & Means Chair presented his 2017–19 operating budget proposal yesterday. I provided some highlights yesterday. Today the committee is expected to act on the budget bill (SB 5048) in executive session.

Senate Chair’s budget proposal would increase state spending by $4.8 billion

The Senate Ways & Means Committee’s chair has released his 2017–19 operating budget proposal. (There will be a public hearing on the proposal this afternoon.) Under the proposal, near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending would increase by $4.814 billion over the 2015–17 biennium. NGFS+ spending would total $43.268 billion for the biennium. Of the increase, $3.742 billion would go to public schools.

Special Report: Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality

Our latest Special Report, "Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality," offers a comprehensive look at Washington's system of business taxes and tax preferences. You can read the report here.

Could Washington get a tax court?

Last week Senators Brown, Hobbs, Braun, Mullet, Frockt and Warnick introduced SB 5866, which would create a tax court. Additionally, Senators Brown, Hobbs, Braun, Mullet, Fain and Warnick introduced SJR 8209, which would amend the constitution to authorize the tax court.

Revenue forecast gives budget writers an additional $571 million for the 2017-19 budget

The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) held its quarterly meeting today. The forecast of general fund–state (GF–S) revenue for the current biennium (2015–17) increased by $247.4 million to $38,227.1 million. The forecast of general fund-state revenue for the upcoming biennium (2017–19) increased by $303.0 million to $40,816.7 million, and the forecast of general fund-state revenue for the subsequent 2019–21 biennium increased by $186.0 million to $43,841.6 million. From 2015–17 to 2017–19 GF–S revenue growth equals 6.8 percent; from 2017–2019 to 2019–21, 7.4 percent.

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