By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press
OLYMPIA — As Washington lawmakers prepare for a new legislative session to craft and pass a supplemental budget, they’ll have more money to work with thanks to a steady increase of state revenues over the past year.
Updated numbers by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released Friday show that projected revenue collections for the 2021-2023 budget cycle are $898 million above what had been originally forecasted in September. And projections for the next two-year budget cycle that ends in mid-2025 increased by more than $965 million.
Revenues for the current budget cycle that ends mid-2023 are now projected to be $60.2 billion. And projected revenues for the next two-year budget cycle that starts July 1, 2023 are projected to be about $64 billion.
Steve Lerch, the chief economist and executive director of the council, said that compared to the first forecast this year in March, overall revenues increased $3.6 billion for the current biennium and $4.1 billion for the next.
Republican legislative members of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said in response to the strong growth, tax cuts should be part of any final plan. Democratic budget writers said nothing is off the table but expressed caution.
Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, a member of the council and the chief budget writer for the House, noted last year the state was looking at potential shortfalls in the billions and said the latest forecast “provides me with relief more than optimism.”
“This is a pretty volatile time,” he said. “I believe that it requires caution not exuberance.”
Republican Sen. Lynda Wilson said she would continue to advocate for tax relief, including a property tax cut.
“I think it’s time we give back to the Washington state taxpayers,” she said. “We can afford to do that this year.”
Friday’s meeting was the final forecast before Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee releases a supplemental budget proposal next month ahead of the start of the 60-day legislative session that begins Jan. 10. Budget leaders in the House and Senate will release their own proposals after the start of session.
The next state revenue forecast will be in February.