Policy Areas

The Washington State Budget & Policy Center publishes research and analysis on state budget issues with a focus on improving the lives of low and moderate income Washingtonians.

State Budget: 

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Washington State faces budget challenges that threaten our ability to maintain public priorities like educating our children, ensuring communities are safe, providing health care for the uninsured, and protecting the environment. These problems are not new, nor will they go away without addressing the fundamental flaws in our revenue system. Especially during this time of historic economic crisis, a balanced approach to the budget deficit that includes reduced spending and revenue increases is crucial to setting the stage for economic recovery in the state.


Health Care: State government plays an important role in providing access to health care to those who do not have private insurance. The state is also responsible for maintaining a public health infrastructure that prevents disease, promotes healthy communities, and responds to emergencies. The need for state-supported health care rises during periods of economic recession, as unemployment goes up and people lose employer-provided coverage.

Economic Security: Families succeed when parents are secure in their ability to provide basic necessities for their children. Workers prosper when workplaces are safe and financial protections exist in cases of injury or job loss. And everyone in the state benefits when people can meet their basic needs and find meaningful employment. During a recession people need these services the most, but it is also the time when those services are most in budgetary jeopardy.

State Revenue:

Property Tax imageThe recent economic recession has taken a significant toll on the state's ability to maintain important investments in education, health, communities and the environment. But even in good times, state revenue, which comes largely from retail sales and Business & Occupancy taxes, does not keep pace with the need. The Budget & Policy Center publishes research and analysis on improving the state’s revenue system to raise adequate revenue and create a more equitable tax structure.


Property Taxes: The Washington State property tax system is in need of reform so that homeowners are protected from unaffordable tax bills while still allowing local governments to raise sufficient revenue. In addition, our system must be made more equitable for lower and moderate income homeowners and renters.

Working Families Rebate: The Working Families Tax Rebate, passed into law in 2008, could cut taxes by as much as 30 percent for more than 350,000 working families in Washington State. It will allow lawmakers to take a balanced approach to the current and long term budget problems by helping to mitigate the unfairness of our state’s regressive tax structure.


State Economy:

Worker (gif)Washington State, like the rest of the nation, is struggling from the effects of the recent economic recession. This downturn has been especially hard-hitting: unemployment has risen to record levels, increasingly people are living without health insurance, and more and more Washingtonians are receiving food stamps. In order to set the stage for economic recovery, lawmakers must take a balanced approach that includes careful spending cuts and revenue increases so that vital services are not eliminated at a time when people need them most. 

Federal Issues:

EnvironmentNational policies help families across the country meet basic needs for food, housing, and health care. These federal issues have a direct impact on the residents of Washington State. The Budget & Policy Center works to ensure that the interests of low and moderate income people are considered in the federal policy-making process.



Climate Change: Clean air and energy independence are essential to the health and economic security of Washington families. As Congress moves towards passage of climate change legislation, any additional energy costs must be offset for low and moderate income Americans.

Estate Tax: The federal estate tax is an important source of funding for essential investments in health care, education, and national security. Reform of the estate tax is currently being debated in Congress, but some proposals could lead to less equitable taxation or significant cuts to key priorities.


Ballot Measures: 


Voter-approved initiatives can propose changes to the ways in which state and local governments raise revenue or spend resources. The Budget & Policy Center provides research and analysis on such ballot measures to help fully inform the public on the possible effects if they are approved. 






Document Actions

2015-17 Legislative Agenda

Our 2015-17 Legislative Agenda calls for an equitable and sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that will promote a world-class education system, sustain a strong, inclusive middle class, produce high quality, living wage jobs, and ensure equal opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.  Take a closer look here.

Budget Matters 2014

Thank you to those who made Budget Matters 2014 a success! Stay tuned for pictures, video clips and PowerPoints from this year's conference.

Legislative Testimony

Senior Budget Analyst Kim Justice recently testified before Senate Ways and Means against a bill that would fund education at the expense of other budget investments. Watch it here. 

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