Policy Today podcast: How Tax Policy Affects the Economy

In this episode we discuss our recent Special Report, "Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality." Too often, adjustments to our state tax system are portrayed simply as "breaks" that give certain industries and/or companies special treatment. But as our report shows, these adjustments play a crucial role in keeping Washington competitive with other states for jobs and economic activity that could very easily go elsewhere.

More from the Senate budget proposal

The Senate Ways & Means Chair presented his 2017–19 operating budget proposal yesterday. I provided some highlights yesterday. Today the committee is expected to act on the budget bill (SB 5048) in executive session.

Senate Chair’s budget proposal would increase state spending by $4.8 billion

The Senate Ways & Means Committee’s chair has released his 2017–19 operating budget proposal. (There will be a public hearing on the proposal this afternoon.) Under the proposal, near general fund–state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending would increase by $4.814 billion over the 2015–17 biennium. NGFS+ spending would total $43.268 billion for the biennium. Of the increase, $3.742 billion would go to public schools.

Special Report: Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality

Our latest Special Report, "Using Tax Policy to Promote Economic Vitality," offers a comprehensive look at Washington's system of business taxes and tax preferences. You can read the report here.

Could Washington get a tax court?

Last week Senators Brown, Hobbs, Braun, Mullet, Frockt and Warnick introduced SB 5866, which would create a tax court. Additionally, Senators Brown, Hobbs, Braun, Mullet, Fain and Warnick introduced SJR 8209, which would amend the constitution to authorize the tax court.

Revenue forecast gives budget writers an additional $571 million for the 2017-19 budget

The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) held its quarterly meeting today. The forecast of general fund–state (GF–S) revenue for the current biennium (2015–17) increased by $247.4 million to $38,227.1 million. The forecast of general fund-state revenue for the upcoming biennium (2017–19) increased by $303.0 million to $40,816.7 million, and the forecast of general fund-state revenue for the subsequent 2019–21 biennium increased by $186.0 million to $43,841.6 million. From 2015–17 to 2017–19 GF–S revenue growth equals 6.8 percent; from 2017–2019 to 2019–21, 7.4 percent.

State school funding system ruled unconstitutional...in Kansas

Washington isn't the only state grappling with K-12 education funding issues. On March 2, the Kansas state Supreme Court ruled that the State of Kansas was violating the state constitution by not adequately funding public schools. Sound familiar? The Kansas City Star reports:

Common Ground podcast: State Rep. Brian Blake

We're pleased to welcome state Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), who took time out of his busy schedule during the legislative session in Olympia to join our podcast. Rep. Blake represents the 19th Legislative District on Washington's southwest coast, a district whose counties have traditionally voted Democratic in presidential elections but last year largely went for Donald Trump.

Bill to avert levy cliff includes levy accountability provisions

Currently school districts are allowed to levy maintenance and operation (M&O) levies of up to 28 percent of their state and federal revenues. That maximum is scheduled to revert to 24 percent in 2018. This is the levy cliff.

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