Washington Research Council

Emily Makings

September 21 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Average workers’ compensation rates could go up 3.1% next year—the largest increase since 2011

Today the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) proposed increasing average workers’ compensation rates by 3.1% for 2022. According to L&I, base rates will increase for 230 of the state’s 325 risk classes (here are the proposed rates by risk class). If the rate increase is adopted later this year, it will be the first […]

September 20 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Through July 31, addressing negative economic impacts was the largest planned use of federal fiscal recovery funds for Washington and its most populous local governments; little had actually been spent

Washington state and its largest local governments have spent very little of their Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds so far, according to performance reports filed at the end of August. Meanwhile, funding to address negative economic impacts accounts for nearly half of planned expenditures (across all reporting governments). The American Rescue Plan Act […]

September 01 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Court of Appeals: Washington’s method of determining prevailing wages is unconstitutional

The state Court of Appeals has held that the method Washington uses to determine prevailing wages for public works projects is unconstitutional. As defined in state law, the prevailing wage is “the rate of hourly wage, usual benefits, and overtime paid in the locality . . . to the majority of workers, laborers, or mechanics, […]

August 27 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Seattle’s tax revenues decreased by 7.5% in 2020, but taxes and other revenues are expected to rebound in 2021

According to the Seattle City Budget Office last week, the city’s revenue forecast has improved since the city budget was adopted last year. That is the case even before factoring in federal relief funds or revenues from the new payroll expense tax. The city’s 2021 budget was based on revenue forecasts from last November. Since […]

August 20 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Credit ratings, reserves, and capital gains tax revenues

Last month, the state treasurer’s office reported that Washington’s general obligation debt continues to be rated Aaa by Moody’s and AA+ by S&P and Fitch. As usual, the three agencies approvingly cite Washington’s “strong fiscal governance practices,” including the four-year balanced budget requirement and budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund). However, S&P […]

August 17 , 2021 - Emily Makings

“Awash with money”

Earlier this month, Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center posted a March 26 memo from Rep. Chopp that set out the Legislature’s options for a capital gains tax. For each of the options, Rep. Chopp listed among the cons that legislators could be “attacked for raising taxes while state is ‘awash with money.’” Indeed, […]

August 13 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Washington reduced K–12 spending in 2021 for enrollment reasons—not due to a revenue shortfall

In June, the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) released the Spring 2021 edition of the Fiscal Survey of States report. NASBO reports that 18 states reduced net general fund spending in mid-year FY 2021; 12 of those states specified that the “cuts were made in response to a revenue shortfall.” Washington reported net […]

July 30 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Federal relief funds to governments, businesses, and individuals in Washington total more than $93 billion so far

I’ve updated our table of federal COVID relief that has been allocated for Washington’s governments, businesses, and individuals. The relief now totals $93.6 billion. Of that, $67.3 billion has gone or will go to businesses and individuals and $26.3 billion is flowing through our state and local governments. This funding will be spent over several […]

July 29 , 2021 - Emily Makings

State tax revenue since the pre-Great Recession peak has grown by more in Washington than in any other state

According to the Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center, state tax revenue in Washington grew by 13.9% from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020. That was the fourth highest growth in the country, and well above the average growth in the U.S. of 6.0%. Comparing the pandemic period of April–December 2020 […]

July 15 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Trajectory of state property tax growth has dramatically changed

Washington’s three top tax sources are the sales tax, business and occupation (B&O) tax, and property tax. In fiscal year 2020, of total state tax collections, the retail sales tax accounted for 42.3%, the B&O tax 17.3%, and the state property tax 13.3%. The chart shows the growth in revenues from FY 2000 from each […]