Washington Research Council

Emily Makings

August 16 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Seattle has now collected $290.1 million in payroll expense taxes for 2021

When the City of Seattle closed its financial books for 2021, it had collected $248.1 million for the year from the new payroll expense tax. Since then, an additional $41.9 million has come in, according to the city’s Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts (OERF). The OERF and the City Budget Office presented the August […]


August 08 , 2022 - Emily Makings

It’s not clear that decoupling timber revenues from the school construction assistance program would be transformative for K–12 construction funding

On July 19, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) proposed decoupling state timber revenues from the school construction assistance program (SCAP). According to OSPI, this would be a more equitable way to fund school construction. Details are scant at this point, but it would involve a shift of roughly $30 million a year […]


August 04 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Next year Washington high school students may be able to earn elective credits for working

Today the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced plans to allow high school students to earn elective credits for working. Currently, students must earn 24 credits to graduate from high school. That includes four elective credits. Under OSPI’s proposal, students who are at least 16 would be able to satisfy those four elective […]


July 29 , 2022 - Emily Makings

New legislative task force on paid family and medical leave premiums begins its work

Given the financial issues with the paid family and medical leave (PFML) program, the Legislature passed a bill earlier this year (2SSB 5649) that established a legislative task force on paid family and medical leave insurance premiums. The task force is charged with making recommendations for any changes to PFML premiums, “to ensure the lowest […]


July 28 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Paid family and medical leave premiums increased substantially in the second quarter, but cash flow problems persist

The premium rate for the state’s paid family and medical leave (PFML) program increased from 0.4% to 0.6% in January. Premiums are assessed quarterly, so the second quarter of 2022 is the first in which premiums were collected that had been assessed at the 0.6% rate. According to data from the Employment Security Department (ESD), […]


July 14 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Capital gains tax revenues in the June forecast

The Seattle Times reports that the capital gains tax case will go directly to the state Supreme Court, rather than being heard first by the Court of Appeals. Oral arguments could take place in November. In March, a Superior Court judge ruled that the tax is unconstitutional. Under the statute, the capital gains tax was […]


July 07 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Two opposing views on Washington’s long-term care program

The Forefront blog of Health Affairs has published two counter-takes on WA Cares, Washington’s delayed long-term care program. One considers WA Cares a failure, and the other (while acknowledging some problems) considers WA Cares a model. I wanted to add some context for both. (Technically, WA Cares is the long-term services and supports trust [LTSST] […]


July 06 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Based on actual long-term care program opt-out data, the payroll tax rate will need to rise by an estimated 0.036%–0.061% to maintain solvency

As we noted in our 2021 report on the state’s long-term care program, it looks like the 0.58% payroll tax rate for the program will not be high enough to maintain actuarial solvency. By statute, the premium rate for the long-terms services and supports trust (LTSST) program (also known as WA Cares) cannot exceed 0.58%. […]


July 06 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Medicaid savings and Washington’s long-term care program

Since our report last year on Washington’s now-delayed long-term care program, the Office of the State Actuary has published new information on Medicaid savings and private opt-outs. (I’ll write about the opt-outs in another post). The long-term care program is technically called the long-term services and supports trust (LTSST) program, but it is commonly known […]


July 01 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Happy Fiscal New Year!

Today is the first day of state fiscal year 2023, which is the second year of the 2021–23 biennium. Earlier this calendar year, the Legislature enacted a historically large 2022 supplemental operating budget. With the supplemental, appropriations from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO) are 24.3% higher in 2021–23 than in 2019–21. Legislators had a […]