The March Economic and Revenue Forecast was released on Wednesday, March 20. The first draft of the budgets usually immediately follow, and all rumors point to a release of the House version of the operating budget as early as Monday, March 25th.
The Near General Fund-State (Near GF-S) forecast for the 2017-2019 biennium has increased by $307 Million, and revenue for the 2019-2021 biennium has increased by $553.5 Million. Overall, the forecasts for both the state and the nation are similar to the November forecast. Washington’s economy is continuing to outperform the nation but not as dramatically as in the past.
The forecast shows that growth is slowing but that we are not currently entering into a recession. There is a potential negative impact of Boeing’s problems with the 737 MAX but the impact on Washington employment and personal income remain unclear.
GF-S revenues are expected to grow 15.3% between the 2015-17 and 2017-19 biennia and 12.3% between the 2017-19 biennia. The level of uncertainty does remain elevated, however, due to issues like Boeing’s and the potential failure to reach a national trade agreement with China.
As for the impending budgets, the Ranking Republican member on the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Senator John Braun, R-20, noted that the state is in the best shape we have been in in a decade. Top budget writer for the House, Representative Timm Ormsby, D-3, said that the forecast is good news and it reduces but does not solve their problem statement. He says tax increases are still needed in order for them to keep the promises they have made.