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First good news of special session? State revenue collections bump up $57.6M above monthly forecast

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on May 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm with No Comments »
May 13, 2013 5:00 pm
Gov. Jay Inslee
Gov. Jay Inslee

On the same day Gov. Jay Inslee brought lawmakers to town to end a $1.2 billion budget impasse in special session, new data were released on state revenue collections showing a $57.6 million increase above forecasts for the past month. That amount pushes the gains over the March forecast to $86.4 million cumulatively, but the figures won’t move the needle on budget talks that are moving at glacial speed at the Capitol.

In releasing its monthly tax-collections report on Monday, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council listed a caveat or two – including that more than half of the good financial news was from early payment of property taxes, which could spell a decrease next month.

See the council’s report here.

The council also noted there have been jobs losses since the last quarterly revenue forecast in mid-March.

But despite those  caveats, the council’s revenue collections report carried some good news – in that tax collections from transactions in the once-beleaguered real-estate sector were up by $12.3 million or 36.4 percent higher than the forecast for the single month. It also said gains in residential housing were being seen.

This excerpt from the report puts the gains in context:

Without the early property tax payments, collections would have been $28.1 million (2.4%) higher than forecasted. Cumulatively, collections are now $86.4 million (4.0%) above the March forecast. Without this month’s early property tax payments and an unexpected $22.0 million audit payment last month, cumulative collections would have been $38.0 million (1.8%) above the forecast. Real estate excise tax collections continue to be stronger than expected, coming in $12.3 million (36.4%) higher than the forecast this month.

The council said that of the 1,400 loss in jobs for March (the most recent month for data), 1,000 were in the public sector.

Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom

Inslee, a Democrat, said in a news conference Monday that budget negotiators from the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-steered Senate had agreed to key baseline cost data on which they hope to build their negotiations. The House is calling for about $1.1 billion in new tax revenues – half of it from extending taxes due to expire in late June – while leaders of the Republican-dominated Senate

Majority Coalition Caucus stuck to their no-tax position in a press conference Monday.

Senate Majority leader Rodney Tom said his caucus continues to believe no new revenues are needed for a two-year operating budget that adds money for K-12 schools in response to a Supreme Court ruling. Republican Sen. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup said reforms that get better results from new spending are also important to the court.

Inslee favors the House plan that called for more new revenues than his own budget proposal. But he declined to get into specifics of the talks so far – which all parties say they have agreed not to discuss with news reporters.

But Inslee did say he has signaled his own willingness to give in his positions – and that he expects a final budget agreement will fall short of his original hopes for funding.

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