State spending over time

By: Emily Makings
2:13 pm
February 15, 2022

As Kriss noted earlier, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will adopt the February revenue forecast tomorrow. This will allow Senate and House budget writers to finalize their supplemental operating budget proposals.

The enacted 2021–23 operating budget increased appropriations from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO) by 14.5% (over actual 2019–21 spending), and Gov. Inslee’s proposed 2022 supplemental would increase 2021–23 NGFO appropriations by 5.1% over the enacted budget.

How does the state’s current level of spending stack up historically? From 1970 to 2021, real (adjusted for inflation) per capita operating spending from state funds increased by 134.6%. (This includes the NGFO and state funds in other dedicated accounts.) Meanwhile, over the same period, real per capita spending from all funds (including federal funds) increased by 220.4%.

The first chart shows the growth in real per capita spending from 1970 through 2023, under the enacted budget and Gov. Inslee’s proposal.

Because Washington is a wealthy state, the enormous growth in per capita spending has been accomplished even as spending as a share of personal income has held fairly steady going back to 1970. The small decrease in spending from state funds as a share of personal income since the 1990s has been more than offset by increased federal funding to Washington.

Categories: Budget.