Official budget outlook: 2019–21 operating budget doesn’t balance over four years

By: Emily Makings
2:14 pm
June 11, 2019

The official budget outlook for the 2019–21 operating budget has been adopted by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC). (Technically, there was not a quorum at the ERFC’s meeting this morning, so the staff-proposed outlook was adopted by default.)

The conference report for the operating budget was released to the public the day before the end of the legislative session. It was accompanied by an estimated outlook based on the conference agreement that indicated that the conference report balanced over four years—the unrestricted ending balance for funds subject to the outlook was estimated to be $102 million in 2021–23.

But in the fog of the last few days of session, some bills were enacted that were not included in the estimated outlook and some bills that were included were not enacted. Additionally, Gov. Inslee vetoed several provisions of the operating budget. Given all that, the official outlook estimates that the budget no longer balances over four years. Instead, it leaves an unrestricted ending balance of negative $58 million in 2021–23.

The four-year balanced budget law requires the Legislature to pass a budget that balances over four years. It does not require the governor to sign a budget that balances over four years. Indeed, as we showed earlier this year, budgets enacted in 2015, 2016, and 2017 were also out of balance over four years, as signed by the governor.

Categories: Budget , Categories.
Tags: 2019-21