WA Research Council: The revenue rollercoaster has returned to where it started; budget balances without tapping reserves.

Writing at the Washington Research Council blog, senior analyst Emily Makings puts the state budget situation in perspective. Following Wednesday’s bonanza of a revenue forecast, Makings says the budget roller coaster has returned to where it began. She writes,

Compared to Feb. 2020, revenues are now expected to be down $355.47 million for 2019–21, up $297.67 million for 2021–23, and up $62.7 million for 2023–25. Over the three biennia, revenues are up $4.97 million.

This graph from the WRC post shows forecast changes. Notice how the latest forecast neatly overlays the February 2020 projections.

In other words, 13 months later state revenues are practically spot-on to what they were forecast to be in the February 2020 forecast. Moreover,

As Washington’s revenues have rebounded since the June forecast, we’ve shown that Washington no longer has a budget shortfall (see, for example, this policy brief). Now, the current budget balances over four years without increasing taxes or tapping the rainy day fund—and the estimated unrestricted ending fund balance in 2021–23 is a substantial $2.999 billion.

Makings also provides a budget balance sheet for the 2019-2021 and 2021-23 biennium. In addition to the unrestricted ending balance, her balance sheet shows $1.8 billion in the budget stabilization account (rainy day fund) ending balances in the current biennium and $2.4 billion in 2021-2023.