Office of Planning and Budgeting

On Tuesday, Leadership in the Senate Ways & Means Committee released its operating budget proposal, Proposed Substitute Senate Bill 5077 which makes significant changes to the Governor’s proposal and differs significantly from the House proposal.  Under the Senate proposal, the UW would receive $674.39 million of Near General Fund State across the biennium.

Here are some of the key points from the Senate Budget proposal:

  • Tuition affordability program – The Senate budget reduces the operating fee portion of resident undergraduate tuition to 18 percent of the state’s average wage in FY16 and 14 percent of the state’s average wage in FY17 onwards. It provides $96 million over the biennium to offset the reduction in operating fees, which we believe falls short by $1.2 million in FY16 and $2.8 million in FY17.
  • WWAMI – The Senate budget provides $1.25 million per year for continued operations of the WWAMI program.
  • O&M Funding – Like the House budget, the Senate provides $1.762 million over the biennium to cover the operation and maintenance costs of UW Bothell Discovery Hall.
  • STEM Investments – The Senate proposal  provides $2 million per year to increase bachelor’s degrees in Science, Technology, engineering and Math fields.
  • Compensation Increase – The Senate bill rejects state-funded contracts with classified staff. Instead, the Senate Chair budget would fund wage increases at $1,000 per employee and require that the University either renegotiate contracts to match this funding level or locally fund the difference in perpetuity. The Senate budget provides funds for faculty and staff wage increases at $1,000 per employee and allows the UW to deviate from this assumption with local funds.

The Senate capital budget is expected to be released next week .  For more information, please see the OPB Brief.

 

Leadership in the House Appropriations Committee released their 2015-17 operating budget proposal on Friday – Proposed Substitute House Bill 1106 . The proposal provides $3.48 billion of Near General Fund State for higher education which is a slight increase over the total higher education appropriations in the Governor’s budget.

On the operating side, the UW would receive $595.6 million of Near General Fund State across the biennium – $95 million more than we received in 2013-15.

Here are some of the key points from the House operating budget proposal:

  • Tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students over the biennium.
  • $50 million in biennial funding to offset tuition freeze and fund compensation increases.
  • $8 million in FY17 to support Computer Science engineering enrollment.
  • $3 million in FY17 for additional medical residencies in Washington State.
  • $4.68 million transfer from WSU to the UW in both FY16 and FY17 to support the WWAMI program.
  • $1.7 million over the biennium to cover operation and maintenance costs for UW Bothell Discovery Hall.
  • $1 million for an ungulate predation study — $600,000 of which would pass through to another state agency.
  • No funding for Climates Impacts Group, although the Governor’s funding had provided$1 million provided for this purpose.

Overall, the UW fared well in the House operating budget compared to the Governor budget.

On the capital side, the UW would receive $41.156 million in new funding from the State Building Construction Account. This is significantly less than the Governor’s proposed budget of $86.2 million, with less funding for the CSE Expansion ($6.033 million of the $40 million requested) and no funding to support the completion of the phased renovation of Lewis Hall. It does however propose a greater amount of funding for the Burke Museum ($26 million), but is still less than the Burke’s requested $46 million.

The Senate will release its proposed operating and capital budgets in the coming weeks.  For an analysis and summary of the operating and capital budgets, please review the OPB Brief.

 

General Fund-State (GF-S) revenue forecast has been increased by $107 million for the 2013-2015 biennium and by $129 million for 2015-2017.

  • GF-S revenue for the 2013-2015 biennium is now $33.547 billion (9.4% higher than collections in the 2011-13 biennium) and
  • The forecasted GF-S revenue for the 2015-2017 biennium is now $36.449 billion (8.7% higher than collections in the 2013-15 biennium)

Revenue collections through February 10th were $69 M (1.5%) higher than forecasted. Of this amount, $52 M came from Revenue Act Sources (retail sales, business and occupation, public utility and tobacco products taxes).

A few additional highlights from the update:

  • Oil Prices have declined further since November forecast.
  • Sales tax growth is strong and is driven by sales in construction, autos and building materials.
  • Real estate excise tax since November forecast came in $11 M higher than forecasted.
  • Average monthly increase of 7,000 net new jobs in Washington. Seattle area employment is growing much faster than the rest of the state.

Note: Caseload forecast Council will release their report this afternoon at 1.30PM

 

The Governor released operating and capital budgets yesterday morning. Though the UW fared well in the capital budget, we believe the operating budget, as currently proposed, presents challenges. Please note that the Governor’s budgets will be taken up by the Legislature in January; we are many months away from a final legislative compromise. As usual, we will be sending out budget briefing documents throughout legislative session to keep you updated.

For an analysis and summary of the operating and capital budgets, please review the OPB brief.

We have updated the OPB brief we posted on February 27th, to reflect additional information regarding the employee health insurance related agency reductions. Both the House and Senate budget would decrease agency contributions for employee health benefits. The House budget cuts state funding by $7.6 million and the Senate budget cuts state funding by $4.4 million. However, both of these reductions are offset by lower per employee spending “limits” on benefits. The House budget would reduce monthly employer funding to $658 per eligible employee. The Senate budget would reduce monthly employer funding to $703 per eligible employee.

Leadership in both the House and Senate fiscal committees released supplemental operating and capital budgets this week, proposing technical corrections and appropriation changes to the current 2013-15 biennial budgets (primarily applicable to FY15). Please see the full OPB brief for information on each proposal.

As a reminder, both budgets will be amended in respective committees, and possibly on each chamber floor, before negotiations begin towards a compromise budget.

 

Today’s release of the November general fund state revenue forecast indicates that current biennial revenue is slightly down from September’s projection. The decline is largely due to a technical adjustment which resulted in a $41 million decrease of available funding this biennium, though collections for the current biennium are $16 million over prior projections. The net decrease in November’s revenue forecast is $24 million less than the September revenue forecast.

In other words, new revenue and an offsetting technical adjustment give Governor Inslee a $32.98 million general fund target for his supplemental operating budget, expected in December.

This forecast, once again, does not contemplate any tax revenue associated with the impending sale of cannabis.

It is tempting to copy and paste our post from June’s revenue forecast into this one, as the September revenue forecast cites many of the same themes: continued federal budget instability, rising house prices in conjunction with possible interest rate hikes, and likely economic losses in Asia could disrupt the slow recovery currently underway. However, modest regional employment gains, an uptick in real estate excise tax revenue, and positive personal income growth propelled collections and revenue projections $345 million higher than June’s forecast for the current, 2013-15 biennium.

Interestingly, the 2011-13 biennium closed with an estimated positive variance, $23 million higher than the June forecast.

The Governor will base his 2013-15 supplemental budget on the November forecast, so continued revenue growth will be critical. As in June, the September
revenue forecast did not include tax collections related to the sale of cannabis.

 

On Tuesday, June 18, the Washington State Economic & Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its quarterly update of General Fund-State (GFS) revenues. Compared with the March forecast, expected GFS revenues are up $110 million for the current biennium (2011-13) and $121 million for the next biennium (2013-15), meaning legislators have an additional $231 million to factor into their budget negotiations.

While these changes are positive, they represent very minor adjustments. Under the updated forecast, the state is expected to take in $30.65 billion in the current biennium and $32.66 billion in the next, thus the increases represent adjustments of less than 0.5 percent each.

Most of the positive variance came from increases in forecasted housing construction, taxable real estate activity, and Revenue Act taxes. Real estate excise taxes came in $34 million (34 percent) higher than forecasted and Revenue Act taxes came in $54 million (2 percent) higher—exceeding the January 2008 pre-recession peak. Lower than expected inflation and employment worked against these gains, but weren’t enough to negate them.  Although Washington employment has been slowly increasing in most sectors (especially construction), aerospace and government employment are in decline.

It is important to note that much uncertainty surrounds the council’s 2013-15 baseline forecast due to the Federal sequester, Europe’s recession, and China’s slowing economic growth. The ERFC gives its baseline a 50 percent probability and its optimistic and pessimistic alternative forecasts 20 percent and 30 percent respectively. The optimistic forecast is $2.5 billion above the baseline and the pessimistic forecast is $2.5 billion below.

In addition, it should be noted that, like the March forecast, the June update did not assume any revenue from taxable marijuana sales as the Federal Government’s response to Initiative 502 is still unclear.

Some state lawmakers are optimistic that the new forecast will expedite their budget negotiations; however, the two sides’ have a ways to go before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th (12 days from now). “We’ll get closer as a result of this,” said Representative Ross Hunter during a press conference Tuesday morning.

The 105-day state legislative session officially ended this Sunday, April 28th. Unfortunately, the state legislature was unable to reach a compromise on the budget by the end of the session. A significant cause of the impasse is the Washington State Supreme Court ruling that requires the legislature to fully fund K-12 education.  The House budget proposal repeals eleven tax exemptions and extends several other taxes, diverting $1.17 billion into education, while the Senate version cuts several social programs to fund education with $1 billion. Governor Inslee has called a special session, to begin May 13th, in order to pass a compromise budget and to pass legislation on other issues such as universal background checks for gun purchases, the state DREAM act, tougher DUI laws, and the Reproductive Parity Act. When special session begins, all bills that have passed out of the house of origin will be reintroduced in that house and placed on third reading.  Budget writers will stay in Olympia to try to work on a compromise in the next two weeks. As always, we will post any updates on their progress to this blog. Be sure to monitor the UW State Relations blog for updates as well.

Click here to watch Governor Inslee announce the special session. To read more about the proposed budgets and other legislation, check out this article.

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