Office of Planning and Budgeting

Today, the Washington state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released November revenue forecast. The forecast increased projected General Fund-State (GF-S) revenue for the 2017-19 biennium by $304 million. Projected revenue collections for the 2019-21 biennium have also increased by $186 million. These new projections show a slight increase from the September revenue forecast.

Here is a quick summary of the total projected GF-S revenue for each biennium:

  • Final GF-S revenue collections for the 2015-17 biennium, which ended June 30, 2017, were $38.317 billion, an increase of 13.8 percent over the 2013-15 biennium ($6 million higher than what was estimated in September 2017).
  • $43.566 billion for the 2017-19 biennium, 13.7 percent more than the 2015-17 biennium.
  • $47.582 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, 9.2 percent more than the 2017-19 biennium.

Behind the numbers:

  • Cumulative major GF-S revenue collections from September 11, 2017 through November 10, 2017 were $119 million (3.9%) higher than forecasted in September.
  • Forecasted personal income in Washington is slightly higher than September.
  • The forecast attributes most changes in revenue to property taxes. Under legislation passed in the 2017 special sessions, property taxes for the next four years will increase by a new formula that will lead to more revenue collection.
  • Similar to the September forecast, concerns cited in this forecast include slow U.S. economic growth, weak labor productivity growth, and international trade concerns.

This is the last revenue forecast of the year. Governor Jay Inslee will use the November revenue forecast to craft his 2018 supplemental budget proposal (amending the 2017-19 biennial budget), which is expected to be released in December. Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on the Governor’s budget proposal when it is released.

According to a recent story by The Seattle Times, Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program officially reopened on November 1. The GET program is a college-savings program. Under GET, families purchase GET units, currently valued at $113, to prepay the cost of tuition. GET account holders are guaranteed that 100 units will cover one year of full-time, undergraduate, resident tuition and fees at Washington’s most expensive public university at any point in the future.

In July 2015, the GET Committee authorized a two-year delay in most new unit sales, given the legislature’s decision to decrease resident undergraduate tuition at public institutions. During this time, GET was required to complete a legislatively mandated study to evaluate its future. The GET Committee voted to reopen the program earlier this summer and to “rebase” all existing accounts. Customers who held accounts prior to the freeze were given additional units because the unit payout value was reset to reflect current, lower, tuition. GET is now available to people who want to start new accounts and those who want to continue buying GET units.

The legislatively mandated study also tasked the GET Committee with looking into implementing other college savings options, such as a “529” college savings plan (which refers to Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code). As a result of that effort, a new 529 savings plan, to be offered alongside GET, is currently scheduled to open in early 2018.

OPB has released a new brief that provides an overview of Activity Based Budgeting (ABB) distribution principles and trends at the UW in Seattle. This brief updates last year’s overview, adding the most recent year’s data. It compares the ABB budgets of Seattle academic units to those of Seattle administrative units over the last seven years (FY12-FY18). The brief also describes a change in the distribution methodology of net tuition operating fee revenue that became effective in FY18.

A few noteworthy trends described in the brief include:

  • Every academic unit’s ABB budget has increased since FY12.
  • Academic units continue to experience more budget growth than administrative units, both in terms of real dollars and in terms of proportionate growth.
  • Of the 34 percent total combined ABB budget growth for Seattle academic and administrative units, 73 percent occurred in academic units, while the remaining 27 percent occurred in administrative units.

The brief also touches on ABB’s future at UW. OPB is working with stakeholders to address emergent issues identified since ABB’s implementation, such as potentially duplicative courses and degrees, the distribution of supplement funds (e.g. permanent base budgets), and summer quarter revenue from programs run by the Continuum College.