February 19, 2018
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State's tax revenue expected to increase by $1.3 billion above forecasts through 2021


The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council issued its sunniest report in a decade last week. Thanks to a strong economy and the recent federal tax cuts, state government is expected to see big tax receipt increases in the coming years -- $1.3 billion more than previously expected by 2021.

State revenues are projected to come in $628 million higher in the current two-year budget than the council had expected in its last forecast in November. That means the state will have nearly $45 billion to spend this biennium -- good news as legislators release their mid-biennium "off-year" budget proposals.

The forecast is equally rosy for the next biennium (2019-2021), which will see revenues up by nearly $660 million more than previously expected, pushing the state's budget up to a projected $49.1 billion.

"I think it's due to consumer confidence, that employment has been growing, the state's economy has been doing very well," said Steve Lerch, director of the council, according to The Associated Press. "The federal tax changes would be a second piece because that does increase after tax income. We assume that a chunk of that will be spent on things that are subject to the sales tax."

The news is timely, as the Senate released its supplemental budget today and the House is expected to release its plan Tuesday. Budget writers have expressed hope in expediting education spending, as called for by the state Supreme Court. They also want to cut property taxes.

"Our direction was to comply with all of our federal and state court mandates without raising taxes," said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, the top Senate budget-writer. "And I think we're in a position now to be able to lower them, at least temporarily."

House Republican leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said that while the budget report is good news, he wants lawmakers to be cautious.

"I want to make sure the decisions we're making are sustainable," he said.

The Spokesman-Review also covered the story. The full report is available here.



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B&O Tax Relief for Manufacturers
Support All Manufacturers


AWB tells House committee, 'It's time to let all manufacturers win'

By Jason Hagey, AWB

AWB President Kris Johnson called on lawmakers to lower the business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for all Washington manufacturers, not just those in some parts of the state, during a hearing Friday before the House Finance Committee.

In its current form, Substitute House Bill 2947 would lower the B&O rate for manufacturers in 30 counties. It would leave out nine counties, including many that consist largely of rural areas, such as Kitsap and Benton.

"It's time to let all manufacturers win," Johnson said, echoing language that Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard, used during a floor speech last week on a separate measure aimed at boosting Washington's boat manufacturers. "We're going to let our fishing fleet win," Tarleton declared before the House voted 97-1 in favor of her bill.
Read the full blog and watch the video at Olympia Business Watch
Preserving Local Commitment


Avista sale is good for customers, community

By Scott Morris, CEO, Avista Corp.

Six months ago, Avista and Hydro One announced plans to combine and form one of North America's largest regulated utilities. Since that time, as we've moved toward closing, our confidence has only grown in the benefits of this merger for all of our stakeholders, from our customers and employees to our shareholders and the communities we serve.

Given the central role that Avista plays in its service territories, both as an energy provider and a member of the community, we understand why customers and community members want assurances that they will continue to receive safe, reliable and high-quality energy at a fair price and that Avista will continue to be an active corporate citizen.

The short answer is that the proposed transaction is designed to help preserve -- and even enhance -- Avista's commitments to its customers and its communities. In a changing industry landscape, joining forces with Hydro One will help safeguard Avista's proud legacy and way of doing business...

Read the full op-ed in The Spokesman-Review
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