State revenue forecast continues to climb; lawmaker calls for freeze on new taxes

Washington state is expected to bring in an additional $191 million in revenue during the 2023-2025 biennium, increasing total revenue to $66.9 billion, according to projections released by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council on Monday.

“Revenue collections remain steady, but we have seen personal income forecasts improving later in the forecast period as well as stronger total employment and construction employment forecasts,” Dr. Steve Lerch, executive director for the council, said in a press release. “These changes have resulted in slight modifications for the November forecast.”

The latest forecast increased about 0.3 percent from the forecast release in September. 0

The council produces three state economic and revenue forecasts four times a year; an official forecast, an unofficial forecast based on optimistic projections and an unofficial forecast based on pessimistic projections.

The additional revenue is due, in part, to the new capital gains tax that went into effect January 2022. The total revenue collected from the capital gains excise tax is projected to total $889.3 million this year, more than double the revenue expected in the tax’s first year.

The better-than-expected forecast has some lawmakers calling on the legislature to ensure no new taxes are approved during the next session, which convenes on Jan. 8.

“There’s no budget deficit on the horizon. It was confirmed today that the government has more than enough revenue to maintain services and programs,” said council Chair Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, in a press release Monday. “Put those together and there is absolutely no justification for raising even more money through new taxes.”

Wilson, the Senate Republican budget leader, said there is no need for a repeat of the 2023 legislative session when three tax increases were put forward by the Democratic majority. She said the state’s most pressing issues – the drug overdose epidemic, K-12 learning losses, high gas prices – will need to be addressed during the session but won’t require more taxes.

The council also projected the state’s four-year budget outlook upward by $788 million, with $191 million of that during the 2023-25 biennium and $579 million in the following two-year budget cycle.

“The majority kept a proposed ‘wealth tax’ alive into the second half of this past session, pushed a proposed tax increase on real estate into the final week, and introduced a bill with 11 days to go that would lift the voter-approved lid on property-tax increases. All that happened even though there was no threat of a budget deficit and more than enough money on hand,” Wilson said.

— Shari Phiel

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