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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Marijuana, Real Estate Boost Washington Revenue Forecast

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Members of the Washington Revenue Forecast Council include chief budget writers Andy Hill, a Republican, and Ross Hunter, a Democrat. They sat next to each other for the latest forecast, but were far apart in their view of the numbers.

Marijuana sales and a recovering housing market should help boost Washington tax collections by more than $300 million over the next two years.

That’s according to a new revenue forecast released Monday.

Lawmakers asked for the June revenue forecast in May in hopes it would help them find agreement. Senate Republican budget writer Andy Hill sounded bullish.

“I think it should help us get there very quickly,” he said. “I mean hopefully this is something that breaks the logjam.”

Democrat Ross Hunter, the lead budget writer in the Washington House, was more wary.

“Yes, this will make it easier to come to conclusion,” he admitted. “Does it solve all of our problems? No.”

Hunter is especially skeptical of the new marijuana revenue projections -- he thinks they’re overly optimistic.

Budget talks in the state capitol have bogged down over whether higher taxes are needed to balance the budget and fund education and other services. Lawmakers are currently meeting in a special session that ends a week from this Thursday.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."