The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, a nonpartisan and independent agency within the Washington state government, released its quarterly revenue projections for the state today.
Revenue collections have been coming in ahead of the June forecast. The preliminary total of collections for the 2011-13 biennium is $30.670 billion, up $24 million since that time.
The forecast also projects an increase of $345 million for the 2013-15 biennium, with General Fund-State revenue for the biennium now slated at roughly $33 billion.
Still, the forecast noted that the differences between the September economic forecast and the prior June document were small. An increase in personal income increased the revenue forecast, while a dip in projected housing construction lowered it, resulting in a “relatively slight” net change.
“The $345 million change for the current biennium, there's three pieces to that,” said Steve Lerch, chief economist and executive director of the Council. “About $123 million of that is due to changes that the Legislature made in the past session. Those bills hadn't been passed when we did the June forecast, so that's really not because of any change in our economic situation.
“Another part is that, since June, revenue collections have been a little faster paced than we expected. We have about $138 million in the bank above our June forecast, so that's good. The actual forecast change for the rest of the biennium is actually $84 million. Those three pieces get you to that $345 million.”
Lerch did say, however, that the forecast on the whole is still good news, although the economy continues to rebound at a slower than ideal pace.
“I'd say (the forecast) is definitely still positive,” he said. “But of that $345 million, about two-thirds of that is a change in the forecast, so that's a couple of hundred million dollars.
“I want to be careful when I say that's not a lot of money, because if you gave it to me or you, that's a lot of money. But as a fraction of a $33 billion budget, it's a relatively small change in context.
“It is good news, absolutely. The economy continues to grow, but we're not seeing anything sort of dramatically different than we did in June. The numbers suggest that we should have been slightly more optimistic in June than we were, so I'd say it's good, but the economy is still recovering slowly.”