State revenue forecasters gave very modestly good news to state lawmakers this morning. The new quarterly forecast is for $231 million more revenue through June 2015 than the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council predicted in its March forecast. A caseload forecast due later adds roughly $90 million in lower state costs for services – bringing the day’s good news total to about $320 million.
Budget writers in the Democratic House and Republican Senate said the change in fortune improves chances of getting a budget deal fairly soon.
Of the revenue changes, $110 million is expected through June – reflecting the higher tax collections since March. The other $121 million is forecast in the 2013-15 biennium. That provides an expected $32.66 billion in revenue for the two-year period beginning July 1.
“Washington’s economy continues to improve, but at a slow pace,” council executive director Steve Lerch said in a news release. “Slightly stronger than expected housing activity has resulted in modest increases in the revenue forecast for both the 2011-13 and 2013-15 biennia.”
Improving housing markets are a factor in the better outlook.
House Appropriations chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Senate Ways and Means chair Andy Hill, R-Redmond, and the governor’s budget director David Schmacher all said they think a budget agreement can be worked out ending the impasse at the Legislature, and avoiding the government shutdown that would ensue if no budget is in place by July 1. Our post yesterday is here.