Blog

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 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 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 05 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Tentative employee collective bargaining agreements would increase state spending by $356.4 million in 2021–23

Employee collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) for 2021–23 were submitted to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) on Oct. 1. Altogether, if approved by the Legislature, they would increase general fund–state (GFS) spending in 2021–23 by $356.4 million. For general government employees, the submittal notes, “The state engaged in negotiations with the labor organizations representing state […]


October 05 , 2020 - WRC

New report: School Funding: Accounting for the Billions Spent in Response to McCleary

In response to the McCleary decision, and as part of the Legislature’s adopted school funding reforms, state spending on public schools increased $14.244 billion or 110.0 percent from 2009–11 to 2019–21. Over the same period, all other state spending increased by just 52.0 percent. In addition to increasing spending, the Legislature increased the state property […]


September 30 , 2020 - Emily Makings

With I-976, transportation revenues were already expected to decline from 2017–19 to 2019–21. The recession is expected to deepen that decline.

Operating budget revenues are still expected to increase from 2017–19 to 2019–21, despite the impacts of the recession. Transportation revenues are not. Even before the current recession, state transportation revenues were expected to drop from 2017–19 to 2019–21 thanks to the passage of I-976 last November. According to the September transportation revenue forecast, 2019–21 revenues […]