Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the release of the state’s revenue forecast:
“I was very pleased to learn our state’s revenues are expected to increase. This is further proof that our economy is improving and that Washington is shaking off the effects of the Great Recession.
“Senate Democrats advocated for an earlier forecast and now I hope this will help push budget negotiations across the finish line and the legislature can complete its work as soon as possible.
“While this is good news, I think we should all still be cautiously optimistic. A strong revenue forecast may help alleviate our budget anxiety this time; that may not be the case next time.
“It’s not enough for us to just get through this special session with another down payment on McCleary – we need to be able to fund education forever, with the sustainable and dedicated funding that the Supreme Court demanded and our children deserve. We can’t count on getting a good revenue forecast late in special session every two years. That kind of thinking is what got us to this point, where we are in contempt of court for failing to fund basic education.
“Washington’s tax structure is the most unfair in the country, we know that. Until we establish a more diverse revenue system that asks everyone to pay their fair share and establish dedicated revenue sources, I fear we will continue to write budgets with our fingers crossed.
“It’s good news that this uptick in revenue will help fill some of the holes in the Senate Republican budget. But when you start adding up the problems – $200 million taken from the public works trust fund, $4 million worth of cuts to courts, $75 million below what state employees are due to earn and the underfunding of foster care, food assistance and mental health programs to name a few – new revenue evaporates in a hurry.
“An improvement in the revenue forecast is absolutely a positive development, but it doesn’t fix bad policy or an unsustainable budget. Only dedicated and fair revenue sources can do that. This forecast will help us reach a bipartisan budget agreement, but we still have work left to do.”