Politics & Government

UPDATE: Revenue report: State collections still lagging

Last week's $182 million windfall from a tax amnesty program for businesses may be the only welcomed gift for budget writers at the Capitol. The latest revenue collections report from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council is actually down slightly – once the amnesty cash is separated out.

Here is a quick take on it from our news partner Peter Callaghan on Raha’s May 11 report detailing collections over the past month.

Raha doesn't always do it but he just put out a press release on the monthly report, and it reeks of caution (and perhaps fear) with comments like these:

The economic recovery has hit yet another bump in the road. Gross domestic product (GDP)growth slowed in the first quarter, and high energy prices continue to erode consumerdiscretionary expenditures. Inflation, however, does not appear to be a threat. The job marketis improving, but the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high and housing is stillextremely weak. We mentioned this last month, but it bears repeating - tough negotiations lie ahead about raising the federal debt ceiling. If no agreement is reached, and the United States defaults on its bonds, interest rates will rise and push the economy back into recession.

Still feeling too upbeat? There’s more from that jokester Raha's news release that talks about the continuing threat of oil price shocks to the economy and fall-out from the earthquake in Japan that threatens trade with Washington’s No. 3 export market in the short term (gets more jolly longer term with reconstruction).

The bottom line:

Adjusted for the extra revenue from the amnesty program and other one-time payments and refunds, the cumulative variance is negative $32.5 million (1.6%).

As far as I've heard, the Legislature has not asked for an early revenue forecast report from Raha. But the tone and tenor of the collections report serves that purpose, and it suggests no new windfalls are in the offing if lawmakers are still paying with budget numbers when the formal June 16 forecast is rendered.

UPDATE 1: There's always an exception. Gregoire did say Tuesday there is about $20 million more in late tax-amnesty payments that came in above her estimate last week, on top of the $182 million windfall reported last week.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Jason Mercier for noticing the Association of Washington Business' blog post on Raha talking today in Spokane to its members about the state’s slow emergence from the recession and Osama bin Laden's mortgage.