OLYMPIA…The first state revenue forecast for 2019, adopted today, continues a streak of good financial news for lawmakers, with an additional $860 million anticipated to come in over the next two budget cycles: $307 million more for the remainder of the 2017-19 fiscal biennium, which ends June 30, and another $553 million for the 2019-21 biennium.
Sen. John Braun, budget leader for the Senate Republican Caucus, said the projections only reinforce his belief that new or higher taxes won’t be needed to balance a new 2019-21 budget for state operations:
“Today’s forecast is very good news, better than I expected. But judging from the tax proposals that continue to surface, and the comments made after the forecast was adopted, some in the majority are still clinging to the idea of higher taxes.
“Before this forecast there was already more than enough revenue to continue every program or service being delivered now – such as the assistance to low-income residents, where our state is above the national average, and ahead of California. With some simple policy moves, and now with these new projections, the Legislature could easily have an additional $3.75 billion to significantly enhance existing services and programs for 2019-21 – like the delivery of special education, or access to mental-health treatment – all without a single change in taxes.
“We could do right by state employees, including teachers, and still look at offering some form of tax relief, or making a larger deposit to the rainy-day fund. And depending on priorities, there could also be new spending on transportation, or even an efficient response to the court decision about fish passage and culverts. Again, without new taxes.
“As my predecessor, the late Senator Andy Hill, liked to put it, tax increases should be the last resort – not the first choice – when it comes to balancing a budget. This is the best budget situation the Legislature has been in for decades. Tax increases shouldn’t even be on the list of possibilities.”