Revenue Forecast Predicts Net Gain Over $215 Million

“A state revenue forecast predicts a net increase of $215.2 million through the end of the 1999-2001 budget period. The increase is a modest change over the last forecast, according to state finance officials.Dick Thompson, director of the Office of Financial Management, said the increase is good news because it reflects continued strong economic growth. He also said it was not a surprise, and formed part of the basis for Governor Gary Locke’s commitment to use a portion of state budget reserves to assist local governments cope with the fiscal impact of Initiative 695.“I intend to help local governments deal with the impacts of I-695, but whatever we do must be sustainable in the years ahead,” Locke said. “Even if we could use all of our reserves to replace revenue lost to I-695 – which would be irresponsible – the reserves would be wiped out in 18 months.”Chang Mook Sohn, director of the Forecast Council, said the economic outlook for the state and nation has changed little in the past few months. What pushed the last state revenue forecast higher was a $1.1 billion increase in the forecast for personal income in Washington. That change in personal income was due to an increase in stock-option income in the software industry, according to Sohn.The forecast increases General Fund revenue for the 1999-2001 biennium from $20.512 billion to $20.728 billion. Total projected reserves rose to $1.2 billion, including $705 million in a restricted account.”