state budget

As he prepares to begin a third term in office, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a new tax on health care premiums to fund post-pandemic public health. He’s also once again urging the Legislature to pass a capital gains tax.

The tax measures are contained in Inslee’s two-year, $57.6 billion operating budget proposal released Thursday in advance of the 2021 Legislative session. Separately, the Democratic governor also released proposed capital construction and transportation budgets.

Economic and Revenue Forecast Council

In a move not seen since the Great Recession, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday canceled pay raises for some state employees and ordered furloughs for many more through at least this fall. The move came the same day a new state revenue forecast projected an $8.8 billion drop in tax collections over the next three years.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

As the state of Washington grapples with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers are bracing for a bleak revenue forecast on June 17 that could portend a $10 billion drop in state tax collections over the next three years.

Already, a preliminary forecast in May predicted state revenues would crater by $7 billion over that same time period. The official forecast is likely to be worse. The state’s current two-year budget is approximately $53 billion.

“We know that we are faced with a big problem over the next few years,” said David Schumacher, the governor’s budget director, in a recent call with reporters.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee exerts his emergency powers to battle COVID-19, behind the scenes legislative leaders are exploring the idea of a special session of the Legislature, perhaps as early as next month. 

“We are very much deeply in the weeds on trying to figure that out and I think in the next week or two we should have some more clarity,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, a Spokane Democrat.

Courtesy: Office of Gov. Jay Inslee

In anticipation of state revenues cratering because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday vetoed more than $200 million of new spending from the supplemental budget passed by state lawmakers last month.

Among the bigger ticket items Inslee eliminated was more than $100 million to hire 370 more school guidance counselors statewide and $35 million for para-educator training.

WSDOT / TINYURL.COM/YDDSPL8B

Washington lawmakers adjourned at midnight Sunday after majority Democrats approved an initiative to restore affirmative action and passed a $52.4 billion, two-year state operating budget. The budget relies on an array of tax increases, including on businesses and real estate transactions, but doesn't impose a new capital gains tax as had been proposed. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Senate Democrats on Friday proposed a capital gains tax that would fund a suite of tax reductions for low-income families, small businesses and senior citizen homeowners. The tax proposal was rolled out in conjunction with the Senate Democrats' unveiling of a $52 billion two-year state spending plan, which followed a House Democratic budget presentation earlier in the week. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a hefty $10 billion increase in state spending over the next two years to maintain current services and fund new priorities, including mental health and orca recovery. To pay for his budget, the two-term Democrat is once again pushing for a new state capital gains tax on high income earners as well as an increase in the business and occupation tax on professional services.

Flickr Photo/Rich Uchytil (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)/https://bit.ly/2KEV8gw

Washington's child welfare system is failing to adequately serve foster youth with the most vexing needs, resulting in hotel stays and out-of-state placements, according to a new report by the state's Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (OFCO).

Jeanie Lindsay / Northwest News Network

Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who is blind and has faced vitriol online, is requesting funding in the next two-year state budget to hire security when he attends large, public events. The request is contained in an agency "decision package" submitted by Habib's office to the Office of Financial Management as part of the lead-up to the budget writing process.