Commentary: Good revenue news still falls short of our budget

The $535 million in additional revenue now projected won’t cover the budget’s optimistic forecast.

By Kevin Ranker

As chair of the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, I am pleased that our state’s chief economist announced that higher-than-expected tax collections are projected to add $535 million to state revenue through 2021.

This continues a modest but positive increase in Washington state’s economy that we have seen over the last several years. An improving economy means more people working, higher incomes and additional resources for the state’s priorities to ensure every community benefits from our shared prosperity.

However, it is important to recognize that the budget we passed a few months ago relied on a revenue forecast $882 million higher than the one produced by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. The additional $535 million we now expect to receive is good news, but does not cover the optimistic forecast used in our current budget.

That said, this money is crucial to fill the gaps in the last-minute budget we signed to avoid a state shutdown. We knew the budget was imperfect, including a lack of funding for the State Need Grant and unrealistic health care savings assumptions. Since we left town, the state has incurred new expenses, including another costly fire season and additional behavioral health funding needs.

There was almost universal bipartisan consensus that the focus of the 2017 legislative session had to be directed at increasing state funds for K-12 education. The new education plan succeeds in providing more state dollars to all local school districts, but may have cut off too much of our local communities’ flexibility in the process. We know every homeowner statewide now faces the massive Republican property tax increase this January, possibly hampering school districts’ abilities to pass local levies and fully fund our children’s education.

Working families in districts across the state from Bellingham to Spokane will be tightening their belts to pay for the property tax increase. I am pleased that the Senate Republican leaders recently recognized the hardship their property tax will cause. However, we still find ourselves underfunding critical priorities of the state. To suggest that we walk back the Republican property tax mistake with this modest forecasted revenue increase, particularly when the budget is already unbalanced and new costs are accruing daily, is unrealistic and further affects our communities, our schools and our citizens.

When we return to Olympia, we will need to work aggressively, and in a bipartisan manner, to ensure the Republican property tax increase is managed or reduced in a way that is more equitable to all of Washington’s citizens.

We must begin to truly balance the current budget, mitigating the mistakes and gaps while thoughtfully alleviating the disproportionate and dramatic impacts of the property tax that homeowners will face early next year. It is my hope that I will find a partner on the other side of the aisle to help us bring down property taxes for families across the state while providing for a fully funded education for our children and services for those in need.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, represents the 40th Legislative District. He is the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Nov. 30

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

An artist's rendering shows features planned for the first floor of an expansion of the Imagine Children's Museum. The area will include a representation of the old bicycle tree in Snohomish and an outdoorsy Camp Imagine. (Imagine Children's Museum)
Editorial: GivingTuesday offers chance to build better future

Organizations, such as Imagine Children’s Museum, need our support as we look past the pandemic.

Harrop: There is a fix for stupid, at least concerning covid

How much sympathy are we to muster for those who die after campaigning against covid vaccines?

Comment: Omicron met quickly with transparency and caution

Countries reacted quickly. The best advice now is to keep calm and continue vaccination efforts.

Comment: Biden learned from Carter’s mistakes on gas prices

Carter’s tough-love scolding wasn’t wrong on policy, but it lacked empathy for average Americans.

Comment: Keep history’s racist accounts, but not as only source

Removing the stories told by white men would whitewash history, but context must be provided.

Editorial cartoons for Monday, Nov. 29

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

School-age lead Emilee Swenson pulls kids around in a wagon at Tomorrow’s Hope child care center on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 in Everett, Washington. A shortage of child care workers prompted HopeWorks, a nonprofit, to expand its job training programs. Typically, the programs help people with little or no work experience find a job. The new job training program is for people interested in becoming child care workers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Editorial: Everett must make most of pandemic windfall

Using federal funds, the mayor’s office has outlined $20.7M in projects to address covid’s impacts.

Editorial: Small Business Saturday a focus for local economy

Shopping locally supports your community’s businesses and employees and offers extraordinary gifts.

Most Read