June 26, 2019
Following adoption of the June revenue forecast yesterday (Kriss’s report on the forecast is here), the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) discussed including in the forecast revenues from the business and occupation tax surcharge for workforce education that was enacted this year (E2SHB 2158).
Sen. Rolfes raised the question, saying, “I believe it would help our budgeting greatly if we were able to get the forecast—the revenue forecast—in an organized way from [the ERFC].” The revenues from the surcharge go to the new workforce education investment account (WEIA), which is outside the outlook, so they aren’t included in the revenue forecast. Sen. Rolfes did not argue that the WEIA revenues should be folded into the forecast of funds subject to the outlook (NGFO), but she said, “I think we need to know what the forecasted revenue will be in order for us to be able to budget for the expenditures.”
Sen. Braun added:
I think we already know that in the four-year the revenue projected by the Department of Revenue . . . falls short of what was planned for in the budget—I think having to do with the standard of proof issue. So it would be, I think, very helpful to have clear visibility of what’s happening with this and I hope folks will consider including it in the four-year in the future.
So, beginning with the September forecast, there will be a forecast of the WEIA, but it will be kept separate from the forecast of NGFO revenues.
This is a good step. We have discussed the 2019–21 operating budget in terms of the NGFO plus WEIA because the higher education programs funded by the WEIA would typically be funded through the NGFO. We have also argued that the WEIA should be included in the four-year balanced budget requirement, to help improve budget transparency. (An amendment to subject the WEIA to the four-year balanced budget requirement was proposed but not approved by the Ways and Means Committee.)
For more on the workforce education investment surcharge, including the standard of proof issue mentioned by Sen. Braun, see here.Categories: Budget , Categories , Tax Policy.