Budget writers will have an additional $140 million to work with as they develop the state’s next two-year budget, according to figures released Friday by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
Washington is seeing strong job growth — especially in Seattle — and consumers are saving money from lower gas prices, said the state’s chief economist Steve Lerch. However, the state has collected slightly less revenue from legal marijuana than forecasted. The slowdown at the ports is also having an economic impact, although so far it is only affecting volume and not dollars, Lerch said.
The budget for the 2015-2017 cycle remains at about $37 billion, leaving legislators with a $2 billion dollar shortfall as they attempt to meet education funding mandates.
Rep. Ross Hunter, the lead Democratic budget writer in the House, said the updated figures make a “difficult problem slightly less difficult.” The House is expected to release its budget proposal in mid-to-late March.
The forecast also includes an additional $134 million for the current budget cycle, raising total collections to $274 million through 2017.
Republican lead budget writer Sen. Andy Hill said the additional revenue should “reduce the pressure on the perennial call for more taxes.” The Senate will release its own version of the budget after the House. Gov. Jay Inslee‘s budget was announced in December.
Watch the revenue forecast at this link.