Forecast council approves dead letter budget outlook. Look out for the next one.

The Washington Research Council reports on yesterday’s official, but largely meaningless, budget outlook. 

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council met today to approve the official budget outlook for the 2020 supplemental (as signed by the governor).

The Legislature passed the supplemental on March 12, when the effects of the coronavirus outbreak were just beginning to be felt. Gov. Inslee then partially vetoed the budget on April 3, and he vetoed some of the revenue bills that had been passed by the Legislature. All in all, his vetoes improved the balance sheet.

WRC analyst Emily Makings covers the changes in the bottom line, then adds:

…it is important to understand that this outlook is based on the February revenue forecast. There was no discussion at today’s meeting about how much revenues could drop given the downturn we’ve been experiencing over the past few months. The next revenue forecast will be adopted in June, at which point the unrestricted ending balances expected in this outlook could easily be wiped out.

Read the post for information on some of the changes made in the spending plan and assumptions going forward. And, as Makings implies, lookout for the June outlook. It’s going to be unlike any revision we’ve seen in recent times.

Meanwhile, more federal assistance to state and local governments – some are talking up to $1 trillion – remains stalled in Congress.