Chapter 8, Laws of 2012, requires the legislature to adopt a four-year balanced budget.
Beginning in the 2013-2015 fiscal biennium, the legislature shall enact a balanced omnibus operating appropriations bill that leaves, in total, a positive ending fund balance in the general fund and related funds.
The projected maintenance level of the omnibus appropriations bill enacted by the legislature shall not exceed the available fiscal resources for the next ensuing fiscal biennium.
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will oversee the preparation of and approve, by an affirmative vote of at least five members, the state budget outlook prepared by the Budget Outlook Work Group.
The supervisor of the forecast, and the staff of the Office of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council in odd-numbered years, will extend the forecasts for the state general fund and related fund to the next ensuing fiscal biennium in addition to the current fiscal biennium. In even-numbered years, the period covered by the forecasts for the state general fund and related funds shall be current fiscal and the next two ensuing fiscal biennia. All other budget outlook work is done by the members of the Budget Outlook Work Group.
State Budget Outlook Work Group
Work Group Members
Budget Outlook Work Group Members represent the following organizations:
- Office of Financial Management;
- Legislative evaluation and accountability program committee;
- Office of the state treasurer;
- The Office of the economic and revenue forecast council;
- Caseload forecast council;
- Ways and means committee of the senate; and
- Ways and means committee of the house of representatives
The State Budget Outlook Work Group will prepare, subject to the approval of the economic and revenue forecast council, an official state budget outlook for state revenues and expenditures for the general fund and related funds. The work group shall provide technical support to the economic and revenue forecast council.
The outlook must estimate revenues to and expenditures from the state general fund and related funds. The estimate must include maintenance items including, but not limited to, continuation of current programs, forecasted growth of current entitlement programs, and actions required by law, including legislation with a future implementation date. Estimates of ensuing biennium expenditures must exclude policy items including, but not limited to legislation not yet enacted by the legislature, collective bargaining agreements not yet approved by the legislature, and changes to levels of funding for employee salaries and benefits unless those changes are required by statute. Estimated maintenance level expenditures must also exclude costs of court rulings issued during or within fewer than ninety days before the beginning of the current legislative session.
The Budget Outlook must:
- Address major budget and revenue drivers including trends and variability in these drivers;
- Clearly state the assumptions used in the estimates of baseline and projected expenditures and any adjustments made to those estimates;
- Clearly state the assumptions used in the baseline revenue estimates and any adjustments to those estimates;
- Include the impact of previously enacted legislation with a future implementation date;
- Separately include projections based on the revenue and expenditures proposed in the governor's budget documents submitted to the legislature;
- Each January, the state budget outlook work group shall also prepare, subject to the approval of the ERFC, a state budget outlook for state revenues and expenditures that reflects the governor's proposed budget document submitted to the legislature.
- Within thirty days following enactment of an operating budget by the legislature, the work group shall prepare, a state budget outlook for state revenues and expenditures that reflects the enacted budget;
- Publish its proposed methodology on this web site; and, provide recommendations to change the outlook process to increase reliability and accuracy beginning December 1, 2013 and every five years thereafter.
Methodology and the Budget Outlooks
- January 2013 Methodology, Presented on January 31, 2013
- Six-Year Outlook Based on Governor Gregoire's 2013-15 Current Law ("Book 1") Budget, Released January 31, 2013
- Six-Year Outlook Based on Governor's Gregoire's 2013-15 Proposed New Law Budget ("Book 2"), Released January 31, 2013
- Questions for ERFC Council Members from the Budget Outlook Work Group, January 22, 2013
- Four-Year Outlook, Enacted 2012 Supplemental Budget, Released November 14, 2012
- November 2012 Methodology, Presented on November 14, 2012
- Methodology, Presented on November 1, 2012
- Questions for ERFC Council Members from the Budget Outlook Work Group, November 1, 2012
- Four-Year Outlook, Enacted 2012 Supplemental Budget, Published by OFM, August 6, 2012