OLYMPIA, Wash — The latest state revenue forecast shows that lawmakers will have more than $3 billion more to work with as they prepare to unveil budget plans next week, plus money the state will receive from the federal stimulus package.
Updated numbers by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council show that projected revenue collections for the 2021-2023 budget cycle are more than $1.9 billion above what had been originally forecasted. And projections for the current budget cycle that ends this summer are now $1.3 billion higher than expected.
Near general fund revenue is now projected at $56.6 billion for the next two-year cycle.
It’s a dramatic turnaround since last June, when numbers showed that state revenues for the next two-year budget cycle were projected to be nearly $9 billion lower than previous projections had shown.
Steve Lerch, executive director of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council pointed to current receipts, federal stimulus money and better news about economic recovery as drivers in the improved revenue forecast.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council noted that while personal income is higher in Washington than their November forecast, employment growth has been slower than expected, and business remains weak for the restaurant, arts and entertainment and travel industries. In February, Washington gained 16,200 jobs, according to the council.
State Sen. Christine Rolfes, who chairs the Senate Ways & Means Committee, called the revenue forecast "fantastic news" and said it puts the Legislature in a better position as it crafts a budget.
"The challenge now is to carefully plan both one-time and ongoing investments that will help the entire state prosper as it emerges from the pandemic," said Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island. "These investments must meet the growing needs of millions of Washingtonians who have had their lives upended in the last year."