Senate budget chair releases supplemental budget plan, boosts spending by $4.7 billion and provides no general tax relief.

This morning, state Sen. Christine Rolfes, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, released her proposed supplemental operating budget. A statement on the Democratic caucus site summarizes,

Budget leaders in the Washington State Senate today unveiled a $63.4 billion supplemental operating budget plan that increases investments to support working families and public schools, reduce poverty and homelessness, and address the climate crisis.

The budget adds roughly $5.8 billion in new spending to the two-year budget passed by lawmakers last April, including a $2B transfer to help fund the Move Ahead Washington transportation package.

“After two difficult and challenging years, Washingtonians are ready to look to the future with hope, and this budget provides an optimistic vision for our state,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “This budget delivers for working families, our schools, the environment and takes bold steps to reduce poverty and homelessness.”

This comes less than a week after the state revenue forecast added $1.5 billion to anticipated revenue collections. That brought to $10 billion the amount of additional money available to legislators since the end of the 2021 legislative session, giving them a $14 billion surplus to work with.

Washington Research Council senior analyst Emily Makings reports,

The Ways & Means Committee chair has proposed a supplemental operating budget that would increase 2021–23 appropriations from funds subject to the outlook (NGFO) by $4.681 billion. Revised NGFO appropriations would be $63.747 billion for the biennium. That’s 7.9% higher than enacted 2021–23 appropriations and 23.6% over 2019–21 spending.

Some major spending items include (amounts are for 2021–23 only):

  • $2.0 billion for the multimodal transportation account
  • $500.0 million for the strategic enterprise technology account
  • $400.0 million for the school seismic grant account
  • $350.0 million for the paid family and medical leave insurance account
  • $346.5 million for K–12 enrollment stabilization
  • $173.8 million for K–12 student support staffing
  • $232.5 million for state employee compensation
  • $209.2 million for salmon recovery
  • $208.2 million for provider rates in long-term care and developmental disabilities

The proposal does not include any major tax relief. The largest revenue reductions over four years are $75.0 million from a B&O tax deduction for credit card processing companies and $49.5 million for B&O tax credits for the motion picture program.

The difference between the $5.8 billion citied by the Senate Democrats and the $4.7 billion used by the WRC is that the Research Council number is which includes $5.8 billion in new policy and $1.2 billion in maintenance level savings. 

The WRC notes an additional significant detail from the proposal.

Over four years, the proposal would leave an unrestricted NGFO ending balance of $362 million. With the budget stabilization account (BSA, or the rainy day fund), total reserves on the balance sheet would be $1.611 billion. However, the budget would also transfer $2.0 billion to the Washington rescue plan transition account. (This is the shadow reserve account created last year; money in the account may be used at any time—it is not subject to the constitutional guardrails around the BSA. The WA rescue plan transition account balance is currently $1.0 billion.) The proposal would make the required 1% deposits to the BSA, but it would not make additional deposits.

More tax relief might have been expected given last week’s windfall, but it’s not forthcoming in this proposal.

As Makings notes, things are moving quickly.

The Ways & Means chair’s budget proposal was released this morning at 8 am and will be heard by committee today at 4 pm. The House Appropriations chair’s supplemental operating budget proposal is scheduled to be released today at noon and will be heard today at 3:30 pm. This is a tight timeframe, even by the Legislature’s typical budget standards. Stay tuned for more as we read through the details.

Additional budget documents here.