Washington Research Council

Emily Makings

October 26 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Washington has a healthy rainy day fund, but how much healthier could it be?

The rainy day fund is an important part of Washington’s budget sustainability practices. Such reserves can help to limit the need for spending cuts or tax increases in response to a budget shortfall. Washington’s rainy day fund, the budget stabilization account (BSA), is funded by an annual transfer of 1 percent of general state revenues. […]


October 23 , 2020 - Emily Makings

The state of Washington has $662.4 million left from federal Coronavirus Relief Fund—here’s where the money has gone so far

The federal CARES Act included the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), which distributed $2.953 billion for governments in Washington. The federal government made direct payments to the state, the city of Seattle, and King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties. The state government’s share was $2.167 billion. Since May, the state has been distributing the funds to […]


October 21 , 2020 - Emily Makings

The research on austerity budgets

On the Oct. 8 episode of Inside Olympia, one of the guests was Speaker Laurie Jinkins. Host Austin Jenkins asked the speaker, “Republicans have said the worst possible thing you could do coming out of a recession is to raise taxes on people. What is the argument for considering sources of revenue, sources of taxation […]


October 20 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Washington’s tax structure is nation’s 16th least volatile, and revenues are holding up better during the recession (so far) than in many other states

The Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) reported last week on an event with former Washington governors Gregoire, Locke, and Evans. According to the PSBJ,   All three governors said the state should create a more fair, progressive tax system that provides stability in recessions. Washington’s current tax system, relying heavily on sales taxes, has proven […]


October 19 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Increased revenue collections continue to improve the budget outlook

Since the ugly June revenue forecast, revenue collections have been coming in higher than expected. With the October collections report, this trend has continued even after the revenue forecast was adjusted up in September. The state hasn’t produced a public budget outlook based on the September forecast. In Table 1, I’ve used the unofficial June […]


October 16 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Value of agricultural production in Washington was $9.495 billion in 2019, including a record high value of blueberries (as U.S. begins investigation of blueberry imports)

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that the value of agricultural production in Washington was $9.495 billion in 2019. That’s down from $9.682 billion in 2018. Value of production has been declining since it reached $10.719 billion in 2015. The top ten agricultural commodities in Washington in 2019 were apples, milk, potatoes, wheat, cattle, […]


October 15 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Notes on the state operating budget, from the governor’s press conference and a Ways & Means work session

During the Gov. Inslee’s press conference on Tuesday, there were some questions about the state budget and whether there will be a special session. Gov. Inslee said, “We’re in the clear this biennium, so there’s no reason for a special session at this moment.” By that he meant that given the improvement in the revenue […]


October 15 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Good news for state and local transportation budgets: state Supreme Court finds I-976 unconstitutional

Today the state Supreme Court held that Initiative 976 is unconstitutional because it “contains more than one subject, and its subject is not accurately expressed in its title.” I-976 was approved by voters last year. It would have limited vehicle license fees to $30, revoked the authority of transportation benefit districts to impose vehicle fees, […]


October 14 , 2020 - Emily Makings

State support for businesses and the economy

Yesterday Gov. Inslee announced the formation of the Washington Recovery Group. This is “a new state effort to help communities recover from the social and economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.” It will be housed in the Office of Financial Management and “will help state agencies coordinate with local governments, higher education and the […]


October 14 , 2020 - Emily Makings

More on Boeing and taxes

Scott Hamilton of Leeham News and Analysis wrote last week about Boeing’s decision to move 787 production to South Carolina, and about the company’s recent history in Washington. Hamilton particularly points out the odd response from some that this decision should trigger a review of the company’s tax treatment. He also argues that the state […]