Senate passes bipartisan plan to get budget done on time

The Washington State Senate today unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Sen. Andy Hill to accelerate the budget-writing process by getting the state’s quarterly revenue forecast one month earlier.

“Citizens have been clear that they want legislators to work together in a bipartisan manner and finish our work on time,” said Hill, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “The biggest beneficiaries of this change will be our students and school districts. Schools must be able to plan ahead for the upcoming school year knowing how many teachers they can hire and what enhancements they can make that support classroom learning.”

Hill’s plan, which has passed the Senate three times in the previous two sessions, would move the state’s quarterly revenue forecast ahead one month from March 20 to February 20 in years when the Legislature is tasked with adopting a new two-year budget. Despite the bipartisan support in the Senate the proposal has failed to receive a public hearing in the House of Representatives.

The state’s chief economist releases quarterly revenue forecasts, projecting how much money the state is expected to take in during future budget cycles. Those projections serve as the baseline on which budget writers craft their plans.

The Legislature is on the 19th day of the 2015 legislative session.