State Economic Forecast: Gloomy with Continued Unmet Needs

Newly released economic forecast: $1.3 billion deficit (2013-15) and another $1 billion needed for education

On Wednesday, the state’s latest economic forecast was released – once again, the news is bad but some feared it would be worse. Here are several factors that are driving our deficit:

When session began, WA had a $900 million deficit for the 2013-15 biennium. With the loss of federal funds to our state (~$6 million less per month) because of sequestration; an increased collection of revenue in the current biennium ($59 million), expectations for lower revenue collections in the next biennium (down $19 million). The impact of the state’s Bracken lawsuit would increase the deficit further, so legislation to close that loophole is important; without it, our 2013-15deficit is $1.3 billion.

Finally, remember this forecast does not include provisions to meet the McCleary ruling by the Supreme Court which requires greater state spending on K-12 education. With estimates of another $1 billion needed for education, Washington State functionally will be $2.3 billion in the red.

Note: These figures assume sequestration will end by June 30; if not, Washington will continue to lose $6 million monthly, with the biggest impacts felt in the communities near military bases (Tacoma, Bremerton, Everett, Oak Harbor).

To read more:

http://budgetandpolicy.org/schmudget/state-tax-revenue-remains-far-short-of-need-latest-forecast-shows

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020605668_revenueforecastxml.html

http://www.erfc.wa.gov/forecast/documents/rev20130320color.pdf

Opportunities to weigh in

The Seattle Times is asking readers, “How should the state close a $1.3 billion shortfall and fund education?”

We vote for the first option, “Raise revenue through closing loopholes and/or extending soon-to-be-expired taxes.” We do NOT support the second option, “No need to raise or extend taxes – cut spending.” Washington has cut spending for several years in a row and families are going hungry as a result; it’s time for new solutions that help people put food on the table and grow our economy.

Want to vote in the poll? Vote here.

State legislators want to hear from you – go to your town hall meetings!

Last week, many lawmakers across the state held town hall meetings, and there are more scheduled for this weekend and the coming weeks. Go here to get details on your district and where to go when.

FEDERAL UPDATE (thanks to Northwest Harvest):

This week both the House and Senate released budget proposals; they reflect radically different views about deficits, spending, program structure, and the role of federal programs themselves.

Like last year’s House budget led by Rep. Paul Ryan, there are no plans raise revenue to balance the budget. Instead, the House would transform Medicare into a voucher program, repeal Obamacare, turn SNAP (food stamps) into a block grant to states, and decimate other programs to balance the budget in ten years. In a vote this¬† week, the budget passed mostly along party lines – yet 10 Republicans voted against it.

The Senate budget does include new revenues from a variety of sources, and does not aim to eliminate the federal deficit. Rather, it mixes spending cuts with revenues and seems geared to ensure that families have access to services and systems that help people gain and keep jobs, raise healthy families, and avoid the across-the-board budget cutting approach of sequestration. Most important for anti-hunger advocates, the Senate budget protects the structure and funding for SNAP.

Take Action:

Contact your Representative and ask them to sign House Resolution 90, which opposes cuts to SNAP.

Congress members want to hear from you – 7th CD Town Hall:

Rep. Adam Smith (7th Congressional District) has a newly-drawn district; he wants to hear from his constituents about their priorities and talk about what’s happening in Congress.¬† Ask Rep. Smith to sign House Resolution 90!

Details:

Thursday, March 28 (7 – 8:30 pm)
Hazelwood Elementary School Commons
7100 116th Ave SE Newcastle, WA 98056
Please RSVP to 425-793-5180 or 1-(888) SMITH 09
E-Mail: RSVPSmith@mail.house.gov [mailto:RSVPSMITH@mail.house.gov]