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Published on Friday, February 22, 2013

State budget still to come

Six weeks into the legislative session and the last state budget proposal made was by outgoing Governor Gregoire in December 2012. Since that time, there’s been a lot of talk about the state budget problem, but no proposals. What’s going on?

First, the Washington Supreme Court is considering whether the Legislature can be subject to a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes without a constitutional amendment. Oral arguments were made last September, and there is speculation about whether the Court will issue its decision before the end of legislative session. It will be very difficult for the state to address a $2 billion shortfall without new revenue and perhaps equally difficult to secure a two-thirds majority in both chambers to enact new taxes. Some lawmakers are hoping the Court will not uphold the requirement, so new taxes can be enacted with a simple majority vote.

Second, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council issues its next state revenue outlook on March 20. The most recent forecasts have shown slight increases in revenue, and any increase reduces the state’s shortfall. Legislators are waiting for this forecast as well.

It is the Senate’s turn to release a budget. While we do not expect to see that proposal until sometime after March 20, we will keep you posted on any new developments and continue to talk to legislators about the importance of not reducing or eliminating state-shared revenues.

Categories: State budget