Hill plan would improve budget writing process

The Washington State Senate today unanimously approved a reform from Sen. Andy Hill that would provide more time for budget writers to complete their work allowing the Legislature to get done on schedule.

“Writing a budget and then finding agreement takes a great deal of time,” said Hill, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “Even once the initial decisions are drafted and released we need time for public hearings, votes by each chamber, and final negotiations between the Senate, House of Representatives and governor’s office.”

Hill’s proposal would require the first quarterly revenue forecast to be released by Feb. 20, one month earlier than current practice.

“The forecast is the foundation of the budget and by having access to those numbers earlier lawmakers can avoid the persistent overtime sessions of the past,” continued Hill, of Redmond.

The state’s chief economist develops and releases the quarterly revenue forecast, which informs legislators how much money the state is expected to take in during future budget cycles.

The Legislature alternates between 105- and 60-day sessions during odd- and even-numbered years, respectively. During a 60-day session the first revenue projection is already due on Feb. 20, because that schedule has lawmakers adjourning before March 20.