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 22 , 2020 - Kriss Sjoblom

In Washington 16,890 filed initial claims for regular unemployment insurance last week

This morning the state Employment Security Department (ESD) gave its weekly report on unemployment insurance claims. ESD reported a total of 28,660 initial claims for unemployment insurance during the week ending October 17. Of this total, 16,890 initial claims were under the regular state unemployment insurance program; 3,679 claims were under the federal pandemic unemployment […]

October 22 , 2020 - Kriss Sjoblom

Nationwide, 787,000 filed for unemployment insurance last week

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its weekly report on initial claims for unemployment insurance this morning. Nationwide, the number of seasonally adjusted claims was 787,000 last week. This is down from the (downwardly revised) number of claims for the previous week, 842,000. The 4-week moving average of seasonally adjusted claims was 811,250, down […]

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 - Kriss Sjoblom

State tax collections again exceed forecast

Yesterday’s monthly report from the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) on general fund revenue collections brought good news. For the sales tax, the use tax, the business and occupation tax, the public utility tax, the tobacco products tax, and penalties and interest (collectively the Revenue Act receipts), this report covers payments received between […]

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 […]