Projections show uptick in state revenue, but lawmakers point to budget challenges ahead

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Slow economic growth is expected to continue in Washington state, but officials Tuesday warned that the state still faces a “significant budget challenge” while writing a new two-year budget next year.

An updated forecast by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council shows lawmakers may have $395 million more available to them through the middle of 2017 — $157 million more than predicted in February for the remainder of the two-year budget that ends mid-2015 and $238 million more for the next budget that ends mid-2017.

It’s a small amount for a state in which the two-year budget cycle is expected to collect about $33 billion for the general fund through 2015 and about $36 billion through 2017.

However, officials are still anticipating a budget crunch at the start of the next legislative session that starts in January.

Last week, the Office of Financial Management directed state agencies to identify potential cuts of 15 percent of current costs.

“While the revenue increase is welcome news, we still face a significant budget challenge in our next budget,” David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management, said in a written statement.

The next revenue forecast is scheduled for mid-September.

Steve Lerch, executive director of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, said there are a variety of risks in the projections, including the potential for a slowing Chinese economy, recent turmoil in the Middle East and possible disruptions in U.S. housing recovery.

Last modified: June 17. 2014 7:07PM
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