November forecasts show increased collections, steady revenue growth and slight budget shortfall projected for 2017-19.

The Economic Revenue and Forecast Council has released its revenue and budget forecasts. The outlook contains few surprises. Revenues show continued strength.

  • Forecasted revenue for the current (2015-17) biennium was increased by $113 million, an increase of only 0.3%. $15 million of the increase was due to non-economic factors (large expected audit payments), and $44 million of the increase came from the collection surplus since September. The remaining $55 million of the increase represents the very slight net change in expected taxable activity through the end of the biennium.
  • Forecasted revenue for the 2015-17 biennium is now $37.204 billion, an increase of 10.5% above that of the 2013-15 biennium.
  • Forecasted revenue for the 2017-19 biennium was increased by $30 million, an increase of less than 0.1%. Total forecasted revenue is now $40.567 billion, 9.0% more than that of the 2015-17 biennium.

The Seattle Times flags a projected shortfall in the 2017-19 biennial budget.

Washington state lawmakers are facing a projected budget shortfall of nearly $500 million for the next two-year budget ending in mid-2019, not counting the expected financial obligation needed to increase funding for education as directed by the state Supreme Court.

The budget outlook does show a 2017-19 shortfall of $474 million for the budget lawmakers will be writing in 2017. While that’s not nothing, it’s helpful to remember that projected revenues of $41.4 billion cover 99 percent of forecast spending of $41.9 billion. The predicted shortfall is manageable, several years away, and will be re-estimated several times before legislators reach Olympia in January 2017. 

The bigger problem, also noted by the Times, is the state Supreme Court order on school funding.