The Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its quarterly state revenue forecast today. According to Chief Economist and Executive Director Steve Lerch, the General Fund-State (GF-S) revenue forecast has been increased by $304 million for the 2017-19 budget cycle and by $186 million for the 2019-21 budget cycle. The latest report reflects changes since the last revenue forecast on Sept. 20.
Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, serves as the House Republican representative on the council, is the ranking member of the House Finance Committee, and a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He issued the following statement on today’s state revenue forecast:
“During this Thanksgiving week, I think we are all thankful the revenue forecast continues to increase, reflecting an improved state economy and consumer confidence. Still, I think we need to be cautious moving forward because of uncertainties in our economy.
“Several days ago, Georgia-Pacific announced a major portion of its Camas mill will be closing next year. We really don’t know yet how employers will cope with the new $11.50 minimum wage and the new paid sick and safe leave, both of which take effect the first of January. The threats of a new carbon tax and a new income tax continue to fuel more uncertainty. Plus, we know from experience the cyclical nature of our state economy. These all create question marks as we move ahead.
“I’m also concerned our state’s Rainy Day fund is only $1.7 billion compared with the state operating budget of more than $44 billion. If there’s a dip in the state’s economy, as we’ve seen in the past, it won’t take much to quickly evaporate that savings.
“It’s my hope legislators don’t view this as additional money they can book for spending in the coming 2018 session in January. Let’s not allow this increase to burn a hole in budget writers’ pockets. Instead, let’s do the wise thing and sock it away for any unanticipated expenditures or future downturns in the economy.”
The council voted unanimously to accept the new revenue forecast.
The Legislature will convene for the 2018 session on Jan. 8. The next revenue forecast is scheduled for Feb. 20.