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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

September 18, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Forecast: State revenue grows, but won’t pay all the bills

Lifted by rising tax revenues, projections for the state’s general-fund revenue has nudged up, but it still won’t cover many of the costs lawmakers need to fund in the upcoming session, according to the state Office of Financial Management (OFM).

OFM announced Thursday it had upped the forecast of revenue for the current budget cycle (2013-2015) by $169 million over its June forecast. OFM also forecast a revenue bump of about $139 million for the 2015-17 biennium.

That would mean projected general-fund revenue for the current cycle is $33.95 billion and about $36.7 billion for the next two-year budget cycle, which begins July 1, 2015.

Revenue projections have now increased for three straight quarters, after years of declines and sluggish growth, according to OFM.

But the money won’t do much to offset all that’s needed to to deal with the ban on psychiatric boarding, pay home health care workers, and fund the McCleary decision on education.

“OFM projects revenue growth for 2015–17 will fall far short of what will be needed to maintain current services, cover mandatory increases and provide an additional $1 billion to $2 billion to meet the state’s constitutional basic education obligations,” according to the release.

“It is encouraging to see this economic and revenue growth, but we are still climbing out of a deep hole,” said David Schumacher, director of OFM, in the release. “We have a lot of big budget challenges ahead.”

In semi-related OFM news, the office also announced Thursday that it had reached a tentative contract agreement with state employees for the 2015-2017 budget cycle. The agency isn’t releasing details yet, and said the “financial feasibility” of the agreement with the Washington Federation of State Employees would  assessed after the November state revenue forecast.

“If the agreement is deemed financially feasible, it will be included in Governor Inslee’s proposed 2015–17 budget,” according to that statement. “OFM estimates the economic provisions associated with this agreement would cost about $250 million (General Fund-State) over two years for all represented and non-represented general government employees.”

So that could be another chunk of change, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments | More in State budget, State government, State Legislature | Topics: McCleary decision, psychiatric boarding, revenue

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