Northwest News

In attempt to speed up budget deal, state to release earlier revenue report

State lawmakers are looking to jumpstart budget negotiations by moving up the quarterly report that updates them on how much money they have to spend.

In an agreement between Democrats and Republicans, a new quarterly revenue forecast will now be released on Monday, rather than a month later in June.

Lawmakers are in the middle of a 30-day overtime session to decide a state budget, and may have to convene for another special session if they can’t reach a deal by May 28.

Moving up the revenue forecast “gives us more certainty,” said Sen. Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville.

“It takes away the allegations that one side or the other is waiting for the June forecast for an advantage,” Schoesler said.

But some lawmakers weren’t optimistic Thursday that the expedited revenue forecast would produce good enough news to break a budget impasse between Senate Republicans and House Democrats.

House Democrats have argued that new revenue is needed for the state to maintain existing services, as well as comply with court orders to increase funding for basic education and mental health. Meanwhile, Republicans have insisted that the state can meet its obligations within existing revenues.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said Thursday that he expects that Monday’s forecast will only reveal about a $100 million to $200 million increase in state revenue collections over earlier estimates, which he said isn’t much in the context of a $38 billion to $39 billion state budget.

“We don't expect any miracles on Monday,” Sullivan said.