State Revenue

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After the worst recession of our lifetime, rebuilding Washington state’s economy must be policymakers first priority. To build a strong state, we need reforms that will create a more robust and stable revenue system that is able to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.

Washington state’s revenue system is:

  • Behind the times. Our state revenue system hasn’t substantially changed since 1935. Seventy-seven years ago Washington state’s economy was based on agriculture, manufacturing, and purchases of tangible goods. Today our state produces advanced software and other high-tech goods and services that weren’t even imagined in the 1930s.
  • Losing pace. Just 40 years ago, our revenue system generated 6.9 cents of every dollar of personal income produced in the state. Today it generates only 4.9 cents per dollar of personal income. That’s a 30 percent decline that won’t abate without changes.
  • Upside-down. State taxes take a much larger bite out of family incomes among lower- and middle-income households compared to the richest households. As a share of their incomes, ordinary Washingtonians can pay up to eight times more in state and local taxes than those at the top of the income scale.

Instead of de-funding our values with deep budget cuts, Washington state lawmakers should focus on making changes to our revenue system that will rebuild the economy to work for everyone.

Research Highlights:

Related Research:

New revenue forecast emphasizes need for action on budget

November 19, 2008 - The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council today announced that the state's expected revenue will be over $400 million short of the amount needed to pay for current state commitments (2007-09). Including the 2009-11 bienium brings the total deficit to over $5 billion. Read the Update

Addressing Budget Deficit Requires Revenue

September 23, 2008 - Due to the economic downturn and a long-term structural problem with Washington State’s budget, we are facing a $3 billion deficit. This calls for comprehensive and deliberative efforts to address the problem. Read the Policy Brief

Revenue forecast analysis

September 17, 2008 - Today's revenue forecast underlines the need to begin a deliberative discussion about the state budget. Read the Update

Forecast further underlines need for revenue

June 20, 2008 - As a state, we have rightfully made significant long-term investments in public education, health care, and early learning.. Read the update

ON POINT: Better Choices for Economic Security

February 12, 2008 - In light of the pending revenue forecast, state leaders have the opportunity to make the right investments now to minimize the effects of the economic downturn on families, communities, and the regional economy.

A Tax Cut for Working Families

January, 2008 - The Washington State Budget & Policy Center has released a simple and effective proposal to provide a much-needed tax break for working families. Our proposal has resulted in state legislation.

New revenue projection is $132 million lower

November 15, 2007 - The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) today released its revised estimate of revenue for the current biennium. Compared to the estimate released in September, revenue is projected to be $132.4 million less. Read the update

Rethinking Property Tax Reform: A series of policy briefs with information and recommendations for Washington State's property tax

November, 2007 - An opportunity exists for Washington State to take a thoughtful and balanced approach to property tax reform.

New revenue forecast brings more welcome news

September 14, 2007 - The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released more good news today for Washington State. The latest forecast projects an additional $213 million for the 2007-09 biennium. Read the update

New revenue forecast brings welcome news

June 14, 2007 - The State's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released good news today for Washington State--revenue projections for the 2005-07 and 2007-09 biennia have been increased by a combined $484 million. Today's news provides support for government investment in education, health care, and savings for a rainy day.

Washington State Ranks 36th in Levels of State and Local Taxation

May 22, 2007 - A Center policy brief analyzing a newly released United States Census Bureau data set of state and local taxation levels finds that in 2005 Washington State ranked in the bottom third of states in overall levels of state and local taxation, when measured as a percentage of personal income.

Balancing Adequacy and Equity with a Property Tax Circuit Breaker

March 28, 2007 - State legislators in Olympia are currently considering various proposals for property tax reform. One idea that has not yet been proposed here is a property tax circuit breaker, which would offer tax credits to lower and moderate income homeowners who are paying more than a certain threshold of income in property taxes. Read the policy brief

Updated revenue forecast brings mixed news

March 15, 2007 - The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released an updated revenue forecast today with both good news and bad news for the state budget. Read the update

Balancing Adequacy and Equity in Washington State’s Property Tax

February 27, 2007 - The property tax in Washington State funds essential local priorities such as education, fire protection, and hospitals. New research by the Center explores the opportunity for the state to ensure adequate funding for these essential public programs while addressing the existing inequities in the system.

Tax Expenditure Reports A Tool for Transparent, Timely Budgeting

February 13, 2007 - A proposal to require reporting on the full impacts and costs of the hundreds of tax exemptions and special tax breaks is once again under consideration by the legislature.

1990s state tax cuts have limited Washington State's ability to fund public priorities

December 21, 2006 - The strong economy and resulting revenue growth of the middle and late 1990s led 44 states to cut taxes. Read the full update

New Revenue Forecast Numbers

November 16, 2006 - Today, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released preliminary results from their quarterly forecast of the economy, including updated projections of how much revenue the state will collect in coming years. Read the full update

Fiscal FAQ's: The Estate Tax

October 18, 2006 - “Fiscal FAQs” (Frequently Asked Questions) are a new series of publications by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center that are designed to demystify complex fiscal issues in Washington State.
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HIGHLIGHTS

Our Policy Priorities

Washington state should be a place where all our residents have strong communities, great schools, and the chance for a bright future. Our 2017-2019 Legislative Agenda outlines the priorities we are working to advance to build a better Washington.

Budget Beat!

Check out the Budget Beat webinars we hosted throughout the 2017 legislative session, including our most recent Budget Beat about federal budget proposals, featuring Louisa Warren of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on our YouTube channel

Testimonies in Olympia

To advance our legislative priorities, the Budget & Policy Center team was in the state capitol throughout session testifying on a wide range of bills. Watch our testimonies on TVW:
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