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    • Budget timeframe: Biennial

      Fiscal Year begins: July 1 

      The current state budget can be found here, and the supplemental budget can be found here.

      Find the legislative session calendar here.

      Find the current legislative leaders here.


      WA Gov. GregoireGov. Chris Gregoire
      Office of Governor Chris Gregoire
      P.O. Box 40002
      Olympia, WA 98504-0002
      Phone: (360) 902-4111
      Fax: (360) 753-4110




      David Schumacher, Director
      Office of Financial Management
      P.O. Box 43113
      Olympia, WA 98504-3113
      Phone (360) 902-0555


      Want a more robust, long-term look at your state's fiscal health, beyond the budget? There are two parts: Click here for the FY2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) compiled by the state government, and click here for information on the state's pension liabilities


      Washington is required to pass a "balanced budget." Section 43.88.033 of the State law mandates the budget shall not propose expenditures in excess of the statutory limit. Section 43.88.050 requires the governor to ensure anticipated revenues match estimated expenditures. Section 43.88.110(5) requires the governor to make an "across-the-board" reduction in allotments to funds to prevent any cash deficits due to projected cash deficits. Section 43.135.025 limits state expenditures to the previous year's appropriations limit plus the fiscal growth factor, which is the average growth in state personal income for the preceding ten years. In spite of these provisions, the State's Budgetary Comparison Schedules reported budget deficits (negative net transactions) for each of the three years examined. Washington law forbids the carrying over of a deficit from one year to the next.


      Washington is engaged in a practice called budgeting for fiscal discipline. Instead of the varying assumptions inherent in other states' budgets, Washington estimates revenue to grow at a fixed rate, and caps spending accordingly. While this system has varying degrees of success, keeping any shortfalls in revenue from getting out of hand, Washington also requires the budget document to conform to generally accepted accounting principles, as applicable to states.

      The State's major governmental funds are the General Fund, Higher Education Special Revenue Fund and the Higher Education Endowment Permanent Fund. Of the three major governmental funds, only the General Fund is budgeted. Some non-major funds are budgeted. But judging from the differences between actual and budgeted figures, it is likely that few of the total governmental funds are budgeted. Budgetary information within the Budgetary Comparison Schedules are not efficiently ordered and do not include the necessary "total" columns.  [from the Institute for Truth in Accounting]


      Find the state's bond ratings here.

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    • Solutions

      How Reality-Based Budgeting Can Permanently Resolve State Budget Gaps

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | November 7, 2012

      State Budget Solutions recommends that state legislators take action in 2013 to resolve the serious state financial crises by changing their focus from inputs to outcomes by redesigning budgets from the ground up based on priorities and performance.

    • Solutions

      How to Prevent Future Pension Crises

      by Cory Eucalitto | November 1, 2012

      The time for state and local governments to offer defined contribution retirement plans that protect both taxpayer dollars and public employee retirement security is now.

    • Solutions

      State Lawmakerís Guide to Evaluating Medicaid Expansion Projections

      The Heritage Foundation | by Edmund F. Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski | October 17, 2012

      Supporters of Obamacare claim that expanding Medicaid will entail little to no cost to state governments, since the federal government will fund the vast majority of the additional costs. Indeed, some analyses project states achieving savings from adopting the expansion. However, state lawmakers should be wary of accepting such analyses at face value.

    • Solutions

      Medicaid Is BrokenóLet the States Fix It

      The Wall Street Journal | by Paul Howard and Russell Sykes | October 15, 2012

      Block-granting Medicaid is the best way to deliver better, cost-effective care to the most vulnerable Americans.

    • Solutions

      The Case for Reform: Prisons

      Right on Crime | August 1, 2012

      Prisons are supremely important, but they are also a supremely expensive government program, and thus prison systems must be held to the highest standards of accountability.

    • Solutions

      The Case for Reform: Adult Probation

      Right on Crime | August 1, 2012
    • Solutions

      Solutions to the public pension crisis

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | August 1, 2012

      Public pensions at the state and municipal levels are unsustainable in their current form.  State Budget Solutions' recent study by Andrew Biggs found that public pensions are underfunded by $4.6 trilion. Here we offer solutions to the pension crisis

    • Solutions: Rhode Island, Florida, Idaho, Tennessee, Washington

      The Political Economy of Medicaid Reform: Evidence from Five Reforming States

      Mercatus Center | by Scott Beaulier, Brandon Pizzola | April 26, 2012

      To better understand best practices in Medicaid reform, we explore five recent state-level Medicaid reforms and their ability to simultaneously reduce costs, maintain or increase access, and survive the politics of reform.

    • Solutions: Washington

      Top 10 Ideas to Cut Waste, Balance the Budget and Stimulate the Economy Without Raising Taxes

      The Freedom Foundation | by Amber Gunn | November 4, 2011

      Ten ideas to cut waste and balance the buget without raising taxes, including more efficient K-12 funding, spending high education tax dollars more wisely and rein in state employee salaries and benefits.

    • Solutions: Washington

      DeBolt proposes common sense ideas

      The Freedom Foundation | by Scott Roberts | November 4, 2011

      The plan is aimed at reducing regulatory burden, and increasing permit predictability by suggesting the suspension of some growth management requirements, the suspension of agency rulemaking, and shortening permitting decisions.

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    • Pace of pension reform ebbs after 49 states change laws

      Hazel Bradford | by Pensions & Investments | April 15, 2014

      While the sense of urgency has diminished, reform attempts have become a legislative staple, as public retirement systems continue to grapple with unfunded liabilities and political pressure to change.

    • Pew's latest pension report understates unfunded liabilities, but still shows growing pension problem

      by Cory Eucalitto | April 4, 2014

      While Pew's report relies directly on state-reported numbers that understate the size of unfunded liabilities, it nonetheless shows tremendous growth in unfunded liabilities since 2008.

    • U.S. public pension gap widened to nearly $1 trillion in fiscal year 2012

      Reuters | by Robin Respaut | April 2, 2014

      The unfunded liabilities of public-employee pension plans rose by 10 percent in fiscal 2012 to a record $914 billion, hit by low investment returns, missed contributions and unfunded benefits, underscoring the pension funding crisis in U.S. states and cities, a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts said.

    • Some state pensions in dire straits

      USA Today | by Dustin Racioppi | March 21, 2014

      Not making payments to the pension funds, or only paying a portion of what an actuary has recommended, is largely what got these debt-burdened states to where they are today, experts say.

    • Great Expectations: States still use unrealistic pension assumptions | by Eric Boehm | March 19, 2014

      A recent study by the Society of Actuaries, a national industry group, concluded that states and municipalities shouldn’t use discount rates that are unlikely to be achieved.

    • How to Become a (Public Pension) Millionaire

      The Wall Street Journal | by Andrew Biggs | March 17, 2014

      In five states, an average full-career retiree receives a retirement income higher than his final salary.

    • US public pensions need more than investment windfall | March 10, 2014

      The higher-than-expected returns since 2012 are welcome, but experts say they don't make up for a legacy of insufficient funding, a problem that afflicts many states that allow elected officials to control the process.

    • Buffett Says Pension Tapeworm Means Decade of Bad News

      Bloomberg News | by Noah Buhayar and Zachary Tracer | March 3, 2014

      "Local and state financial problems are accelerating, in large part because public entities promised pensions they couldn't afford," Buffett said. "Unfortunately, pension mathematics today remain a mystery to most Americans."

    • Study rates public pension overhauls in other states

      Sacramento Bee - State Worker | by Jon Ortiz | February 27, 2014

      Public pension-change efforts in states that have rolled back benefits share some common characteristics, according to a paper issued today by the influential Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

    • Public Pension Tabs Multiply as States Defer Costs and Hard Choices

      The New York Times | by Rick Lyman and Mary Williams Walsh | February 25, 2014

      More than 40 states have taken steps in recent years to rein in mounting public employee pension costs that threaten to strangle government services. But none have come close to closing their pension gaps quickly enough to keep pace with a rapidly aging - and retiring - public work force.

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    • BLOG: K-12 Education, Spending, Budget Processes and Systems

      Setting the stage for the 2015-17 budget debate

      by Jason Mercier | March 20, 2014

      The largest policy spending increase in the Washington State supplemental operating budget is $58 million for "K-12 materials, supplies, and operating costs." While increasing spending subject to the balance sheet to just under $33.7 billion, lawmakers left an ending fund balance of $315 million, with total reserves, including the constitutionally protect budget reserve, of $897 million.

    • BLOG: Revenue, Budget Transparency

      Senate Ways & Means to act on revenue forecast reform

      by Jason Mercier | January 15, 2014

      The public should have an opportunity to participate each session on the bills being considered before a vote occurs despite their treatment in a different year.

    • BLOG: Budget Gimmicks, Spending

      Anatomy of a budget gimmick

      by Jason Mercier | January 8, 2014

      Some creative accounting that appears to serve no purpose but to try to circumvent the Washington State spending limit. Follow the bouncing ball to better understand the anatomy of the Governor's spending limit budget gimmick

    • BLOG: Spending

      2014 Washington state supplemental budget will need to keep state spending limit in mind

      by Jason Mercier | November 26, 2013

      State agencies have already submitted their 2014 supplemental budget wish list requesting a combined increase in spending of $895 million and 806 new FTEs.

    • BLOG: Budget Processes and Systems, Budget Transparency

      No more ludicrous speed lawmaking

      by Jason Mercier | November 11, 2013

      if a legislative proposal is good public policy, it will still be good policy after the public has a chance to read, understand and comment on the proposal.

    • BLOG: Pensions, Unions

      State Supreme Court considers $1.3 billion pension case

      by Jason Mercier | October 21, 2013

      The State Supreme Court will hear a pension case brought by various unions raising the issue of whether lawmakers had the legal right to make changes to what they thought were conditional pension benefit increases.

    • BLOG: Revenue, Budget Transparency

      Principles of a good tax system

      by Jason Mercier | October 14, 2013

      The fundamental building blocks of a good tax structure include simplicity, accountability, economic neutrality, realiability and fairness.

    • BLOG: Revenue

      Revenue forecast helps grow budget reserves

      by Jason Mercier | September 19, 2013

      Perhaps the best news about this continued revenue growth in Washington state, besides the fact the economy is showing signs of life, is the fact this $345 million increase has provided more of a cushion for the new 2013-15 budget.

    • BLOG: Federal Government Impact, Medicaid

      State attorneys general lead the federalism fight

      by Joe Luppino-Esposito | September 17, 2013

      One look at the upcoming cases before the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeal would suggest that states and the national government have a destructively adversarial relationship. Should we be worried about this constant conflict?

    • BLOG: Budget Processes and Systems

      WA Governor kicks off "soft" launch of Results Washington effort

      by Jason Mercier | September 11, 2013

      Washington Governor Inslee put his stamp on the state's long track record with performance management efforts with a "soft" launch of Results Washington.

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