January 20 , 2021 - Kriss Sjoblom

State tax collections again exceed forecast

Today’s monthly report from the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) on general fund revenue collections once again 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 […]

January 20 , 2021 - Emily Makings

A new bill would use the rainy day fund to provide COVID–19 relief for individuals, businesses, and schools and direct how to allocate federal relief funds

Today Rep. Stokesbary introduced HB 1334. The bill would appropriate $4.175 billion in state and federal funds for COVID-19 relief for the 2019–21 biennium. Of that, $1.735 billion would come from the budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund) and $2.440 billion would come from federal funds. The federal funds allocated are from […]

January 20 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Bill would add teeth to the state statute requiring across-the-board cuts in case of a cash deficit

Rep. Stokesbary, the ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee, has introduced HB 1163. The bill would require the governor to determine whether there is a cash deficit in the state general fund or in the near general fund–outlook. Last August, following a very ugly June revenue forecast, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) […]

January 13 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Another year, another capital gains tax proposal

Gov. Inslee’s 2021–23 budget proposal includes a capital gains tax, which has been introduced in the Senate as SB 5096. The bill will be heard by the Ways & Means Committee tomorrow. SB 5096 would levy “an excise tax . . . on the sale or exchange of long-term capital assets.” The rate of the […]

January 11 , 2021 - Emily Makings

The prospects for early action on relief this legislative session

Today is the first day of the 2021 legislative session. At the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview last week, Gov. Inslee, House Speaker Jinkins, House Minority Leader Wilcox, Sen. Dhingra, and Sen. Short talked about the session. There seemed to be agreement on the need to act quickly to provide relief, and that the rainy […]

January 06 , 2021 - Emily Makings

The rainy day fund and the governor’s budget

The governor’s proposed 2021 supplemental operating budget would drain the budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund), as I noted last month. Based on the November revenue forecast, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council estimated that the BSA’s ending balance in 2019–21 would be $1.943 billion—the highest it has ever been. That figure […]

January 04 , 2021 - Emily Makings

A “shared benefit” rulemaking and odds and ends from Gov. Inslee’s 2021–23 budget proposal

Gov. Inslee’s 2021–23 operating budget would appropriate $148.2 million for a “shared benefit adjustment.” For the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), this would “cover the estimated claims for the variance between services provided under the shared benefit equation and the full amount of the benefit while rulemaking takes place.” This is related to […]

December 31 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Rental assistance funding in Gov. Inslee’s budget proposals and federal relief bills

The new federal relief bill appropriates $25 billion for emergency rental assistance. It will be distributed to states and local governments using the same methodology as the Coronavirus Relief Fund (except local governments will get direct federal allocations if their populations exceed 200,000 instead of 500,000). It’s not clear how much Washington will receive, but […]

December 30 , 2020 - Emily Makings

How the pandemic is affecting public school funding in Washington and elsewhere in the U.S.

A New York Times article last week looked at public school funding issues related to the pandemic. The new federal aid bill, which was signed by the president on Sunday, includes $54.3 billion for the elementary and secondary school emergency relief (ESSER) fund. (That’s on top of $13.5 billion for this purpose that was part […]

December 30 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Revenues are expected to keep growing (even without new taxes) and Gov. Inslee’s budget does not include funding for the working families tax credit

Last week the Everett Herald editorialized in favor of Gov. Inslee’s proposed taxes for 2021–23. A few points, for context: First, the editorial states, “Much of the Legislature’s focus when its session begins next month will be on filling an estimated $3.3 billion hole in revenue that the covid-19 pandemic and its economic downturn bore […]