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caption: The Washington State Capitol in Olympia.
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The Washington State Capitol in Olympia.
Credit: NW News Network

Washington state is not short on money as it debates its next two-year budget


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and state lawmakers will have billions more in tax dollars than last time around when they sit down to write a budget for the next two years.

State tax collections are defying fears of a recession as lawmakers get ready to debate the new budget. Real estate excise tax collections are currently dropping from slowing home sales, but other important taxes are still bringing in the dough big time. Business income taxes are stronger than expected; so is the retail sales tax.

All of it adds up to a growing positive bottom line for Washington state government.

Southwest Washington Republican state Rep. Ed Orcutt says it’s time for a broad-based property tax or sales tax cut.

“Somewhere in here, we’ve got to figure out some sort of tax relief because we’ve got a lot of people who are suffering," Orcutt said.

Majority Democrats greeted Orcutt’s suggestion cautiously.

The Washington Legislature’s lead budget writers say inflation is affecting state agencies as well as school costs. They say any tax relief next year will likely be targeted to the most needy.

Democrat Timm Ormsby, the House appropriations chair, says there are "volatile risks lingering on the horizon," but also says that the state's revenue forecasts are in "good shape" over the coming two years.

“House Democrats have heard from their communities about the needs in schools and student support to give every child the education they deserve," Ormsby said in a statement. "Statewide we need to invest in and support our workforce so that we can provide health care, behavioral health, long-term and disability care to ensure families aren’t left without critical services. We must ensure financial support to address significant housing and homelessness needs. There is a lot of work to be done.

“I look forward to reviewing the governor’s proposed 2023-2025 Operating Budget and working with my colleagues to ensure the state provides sustainable and equitable access to resources that address our most urgent needs.”