State revenue projection for 2017–19 increased by $298 million
OLYMPIA – Washington’s projected Near General Fund revenue collections for the 2017–19 state budget have increased by a net $298 million, according to estimates released today by the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
“With collections once again running above the previous forecast, particularly given the increase in housing values, we revised the forecast upward,” said Steve Lerch, forecast council executive director.
The forecast for Near General Fund collections actually increased by $536 million for the current biennium. But the net increase is $298 million, after factoring in changes the Legislature made earlier this year, including a statewide property tax reduction. Total Near General Fund revenues are now projected at nearly $45.3 billion for the current two-year budget cycle, which began July 1, 2017. The state’s total reserves for this biennium are now projected at more than $2.9 billion.
The council also increased the Near General Fund forecast for the next biennium (2019–21) by nearly $287 million, to $49.4 billion.
“Even with today’s increased forecast in the current biennium, we will face some big challenges in balancing the next two-year state budget,” said David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management.
After investing billions of dollars the past six years to meet the state’s basic education obligations, Schumacher said the state faces a big backlog of pent-up needs. But, as he noted last week in a memo to state agencies, Schumacher said revenue growth is not likely to meet all those demands, including mandatory caseload and cost growth, maintenance of the K-12 and health care systems, and spending increases for critical mental health programs, employee compensation and other services.