There’s suddenly a flurry of talk in Olympia about a quick resolution to the weeks-long budget stalemate. The change in rhetoric follows Tuesday’s positive revenue and caseload forecasts.
Budget writers will now have an additional $300 million-plus to help bridge their differences. They can thank a recovering housing market and improved consumer confidence.
The House and Senate have been locked in a partisan fight over whether to raise additional revenues by closing some tax exemptions. This new money could now fill that gap.
“I think it’s great news,” says Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, who predicts a quick resolution to the budget. “Certainly with $320 million there’s no excuse for us to get out of town.”
But Governor Jay Inslee’s budget chief, David Schumacher, isn’t quite so optimistic.
“Is it the final piece? I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but we’re getting a lot closer,” he says.
There are still differences between the House and Senate over how to spend the money. Ultimately the goal is to close a $1 billion shortfall over the next two years and make a $1 billion down payment on a Supreme Court ruling that says Washington isn’t adequately funding public schools.
On the Web:
Washington Revenue Forecast - Economic and Revenue Forecast Council