The surge in new revenues to the state treasury has fueled another boost in appropriations. The state Senate passed a budget that increased spending by $1.155 billion, reports the Washington Research Council.
…the Senate passed its supplemental operating budget. Floor amendments added $6.5 million in appropriations and transferred $1.0 million from the general fund–state to the economic development strategic reserve account…
Altogether, the Senate-passed supplemental budget would increase 2019–21 appropriations from funds subject to the outlook and the workforce education investment account (NGFO+WEIA) by $1.155 billion to $54.028 billion. That’s a 20.9 percent increase over 2017–19 spending.
The House is expected to pass its budget soon.
State Treasurer Duane A. Davidson writes in an op-ed that the new money should viewed as a windfall, not to expand spending obligations.
As Treasurer and a member of the ERFC Board, I want to remind legislators that this windfall of additional revenue is a one-time event that cannot be relied upon to happen again.
While the state faces a number of pressing problems, I am concerned about the Legislature’s willingness to spend down fund balances and its lack of urgency to ready the state for the next economic downturn, which could occur any time.… I want legislators to consider saving and preparing. We need a better cash position in both the rainy day fund and the general fund’s ending fund balance to help us weather the next recession. We should be making our preparations now.
In a sometimes contentious debate, however, Democrats rejected Republican calls to spend some of that extra money to cut property taxes, divert some tax money to cover transportation costs or suspend the state park system’s Discover Pass fees for a year.
The Columbian editorial board wants to see “good news for taxpayers” from the revenue gains.
In other words, just because the state government has unexpected revenue, it doesn’t need to spend all of it. If you found $2,000 between the couch cushions, you probably would not run out and immediately purchase a Peloton bike; you would assess your needs, spend some, and save the rest for a rainy day…
Washington lawmakers are flush with cash now, thanks to smart management and the hard work of residents throughout the state. They should ensure that cash is spent — or saved — in a prudent manner for the long-term benefit of residents.
Things are moving swiftly.