Washington Research Council

Emily Makings

March 16 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Budget provisos include studies on human services vendor rates, an evaluation of Washington’s electric grid, a voting data repository, and more

Below are some interesting provisos in the supplemental operating budget bill. Many of them require studies, which could result in legislative action down the road. (Amounts shown are from all funds.) Human Services Vendor Rates: $800,000 for a behavioral health comparison rate study, to establish benchmark payment rates reflecting the cost of providing services. A […]


March 11 , 2022 - Emily Makings

At the end of the outlook period, operating budget reserves will be either 5% or 13% of general state revenues, depending on how you define them

The Legislature passed the 2022 supplemental operating budget (as recommended by the conference committee) last night before adjourning. Yesterday I showed how the Legislature decided to use the $13.8 billion surplus in funds subject to the outlook (NGFO). Of the surplus, 14.1% goes to reserves—the unrestricted NGFO ending balance and the Washington rescue plan transition […]


March 10 , 2022 - Emily Makings

The operating budget would use 80.5% of the state’s surplus for new spending

As we noted in our brief comparing the Senate- and House-passed operating budgets, the surplus in funds subject to the outlook (NGFO) is about $13.8 billion over the outlook period. That does not include the ending balance of the budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund), the current balance of the Washington rescue […]


March 10 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Policy changes in the operating budget would increase NGFO appropriations by $6.202 billion

The 2022 supplemental operating budget, as proposed by the conference committee yesterday, would increase 2021–23 appropriations from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO) by $5.071 billion. That figure is net of changes to the maintenance level (the cost of continuing current services, adjusted by enrollment and inflation) and new policy. Maintenance level changes would reduce […]


March 09 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Under operating budget compromise, 2021–23 appropriations would be 24.3% higher than 2019–21 spending

The supplemental operating budget conference report would increase 2021–23 appropriations from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO) by $5.071 billion. Revised 2021–23 NGFO appropriations would be $64.138 billion. This is an increase of 8.6% over the enacted 2021–23 biennial budget and an increase of 24.3% over 2019–21 spending. Appropriations in the conference report are $503.9 […]


March 09 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Transportation budget’s exported fuel tax replaced with annual transfers from the general fund and public works assistance account

The transportation package that was proposed in February would have increased transportation revenues by $16.801 billion over 16 years. That included $2.053 billion in revenues from a new tax on exported fuel. The exported fuel tax provision was later stripped by the House. The conference report for the transportation budget would increase revenues by $16.988 […]


March 09 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Capital budget compromise would increase 2021–23 appropriations by 23%

As we wait for the operating budget conference report, the Legislature has released a compromise capital budget proposal. (It was passed by the House yesterday.) It would increase 2021–23 capital appropriations by $1.507 billion from all funds, which is $260.2 million more than was included in the Senate-passed supplemental capital budget. Revised 2021–23 capital appropriations […]


March 09 , 2022 - Emily Makings

The operating budget agreement should be available later today—how much will be kept in reserves?

At yesterday’s Democratic leadership media availability, Sen. Billig said that the supplemental operating budget should be made public this afternoon or evening. Additionally, he said, One of the things that is really important is that we finish with enough reserves that do two things. One: allow us to weather any bad news that may come […]


March 02 , 2022 - Emily Makings

What is the impact to the budget if the capital gains tax is unconstitutional?

Yesterday the Douglas County Superior Court ruled that the capital gains tax is unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the tax is an income tax and it violates the state constitution’s uniformity requirement and 1% limit on property taxes. The attorney general has already said he will appeal. If the state supreme court ultimately agrees that […]


February 28 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Reserves should be kept in the budget stabilization account

Last year, the Legislature transferred $1.820 billion from the budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund) to the general fund–state (GFS). Then, the Legislature transferred $1.0 billion from the GFS to a new Washington rescue plan transition account (WRPTA). On Saturday, the House rejected an amendment to the supplemental operating budget that would […]