State revenue growth is second strongest in nation. Research Council warns of tampering with successful tax system.

The Washington Research Council reports that the state has posted the second strongest revenue growth in the nation since the Great Recession. The WRC walks through the series of upward revisions in revenue forecasts and continued growth above projections, pointing out:

Adjusted for inflation, revenues in 2019–21 were 40.9% higher than the pre-Great Recession peak. Revenues per capita have also increased: adjusted for inflation, per capita revenues in 2021 were 31.6% higher than the pre-Great Recession peak. From around 1990 through the Great Recession, per capita revenues (adjusted for inflation) hovered around the $2,500 level. From 2012 to 2021, per capita revenues grew by 45.9%. In 2021, per capita revenues were $3,652.

This graph tells the story of steep revenue growth.

How’s that compare?

according to Pew, Washington has the nation’s second-highest tax revenue growth from the pre-Great Recession peak through the first quarter of 2021. Tax revenue over this period grew by 40.2% in Washington, by 41.3% in California (the nation’s highest growth), and by 18.1% for the 50-state total.

The WRC closes with with a polite cautionary statement.

Washington’s Tax Structure Work Group is considering major reforms to the state’s fundamental tax structure. Lawmakers should consider whether those changes could kill the proverbial golden goose.