Washington state budget
Energy policy • Public education • School choice • Public pensions • State budget • Ballot measures
|Washington state budget|
|State Credit Rating:||AA+ (as of May 2012)|
|Current Governor:||Christine Gregoire|
|GF expenses:||$33.2 billion|
|All funds expenses:||$15.6 billion (FY 2013 estimate)|
|Spending % Change:||1.92%|
|% from Federal Funding:||28.59%|
|Per Capita State Debt:||$12,988|
|Other state budgets|
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- 1 Budget process
- 2 Expenditures
- 3 Revenues
- 4 State budgets by year
- 5 Historical spending
- 6 State debt
- 7 Federal aid to state budget
- 8 Budget transparency
- 9 Accounting principles
- 10 Contact information
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 References
- A summary of the budget drafting process
- Trends in expenditures and revenues
- Current and past fiscal year budget developments
- Financial transparency measures
Between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2013, Washington's total expenditures decreased by approximately $400 million, from $33.6 billion in 2009 to $33.2 billion in 2013. This represents an 1.19 percent decrease, below the cumulative rate of inflation during the same period (9.06 percent, calculated using the Consumer Price Indices for January 2009 and January 2013).
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in April.
- State agency budget requests are submitted in September.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Washington State Legislature on or before December 20.
- The legislature adopts a budget in April or May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
- The biennial budget cycle begins in July.
The governor is required by statute to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. Though the legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, state law does forbid expenditures without supporting revenues.
Although each state executes its budget process differently, the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) breaks down state expenditures into four general categories. This allows for comparisons among the 50 states. NASBO's categories are as follows:
- General fund: "The predominant fund for financing a state’s operations. Revenues are received from broad-based state taxes. However, there are differences in how specific functions are financed from state to state."
- Other funds: "Expenditures from revenue sources that are restricted by law for particular governmental functions or activities. For example, a gasoline tax dedicated to a highway trust fund would appear in the “Other funds” column. For Medicaid, other state funds include provider taxes, fees, donations, assessments, and local funds."
- Federal funds: "Funds received directly from the federal government."
- Bonds: "Expenditures from the sale of bonds, generally for capital projects."
The table below breaks down expenditures for fiscal year 2013 (comparable figures from surrounding states are provided to give additional context). Figures for all columns except "Per capita expenditures" are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000). Figures in the column labeled "Per capita expenditures" have not been abbreviated.
|Total state expenditures, FY 2013 ($ in millions)|
|State||General fund||Federal funds||Other funds||Bonds||Total||Per capita expenditures**|
| **Per capita figures are calculated by taking the state's total expenditures and dividing by the number of state residents according to United States Census estimates.|
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers
Expenditures by function
State expenditures in Washington can be further broken down by function (elementary and secondary education, public assistance, etc.). Fiscal year 2012 data is included in the table below (information from neighboring states is provided for additional context). Figures are rendered as percents, indicating the share of the total budget spent per category.
|Expenditures by function, FY 2012 (as percents)|
|State||Elementary and secondary ed.||Higher ed.||Public assistance||Medicaid||Corrections||Transportation||Other|
|Source: National Association of State Budget Officers|
From 2008 to 2012, expenditures on elementary and secondary education, public assistance, Medicaid, corrections and transportation decreased, with expenditures on Medicaid decreasing the most at 7.5 percentage points, a 38.3 percent decrease in the share of the budget. During that same time period, expenditures on higher education increased by 4.1 percentage points, a 29.9 percent increase in the share of the budget. The table below details changes in expenditures from 2008 to 2012. Figures are rendered as percents, indicating the share of the total budget spent per category.
|Expenditures from 2008 to 2012 (as percents)|
|Year||Elementary and secondary ed.||Higher ed.||Public assistance||Medicaid||Corrections||Transportation||Other|
|Change in %||-0.20%||4.10%||-0.30%||-7.50%||-1.00%||-0.10%||4.90%|
|Source: National Association of State Budget Officers|
The table below breaks down general fund revenues by source in fiscal year 2013 (comparable figures from surrounding states are also provided to give additional context). Figures for all columns except "Per capita revenue" are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000). Figures in the column labeled "Per capita revenue" have not been abbreviated.
|Revenue sources in the general fund, FY 2013 ($ in millions)|
|State||Sales tax||Personal income tax||Corporate income tax||Gaming tax||Other taxes and fees||Total||Per capita revenue**|
| **Per capita figures are calculated by taking the state's total revenues and dividing by the number of state residents according to United States Census estimates for 2013.|
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers
The table below details the change in revenue sources in the general fund from 2009 to 2013. Figures for all columns except "Per capita revenue" are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000). Figures in the column labeled "Per capita revenue" have not been abbreviated.
|Revenue sources in the general fund, Washington ($ in millions)|
|Year||Sales tax||Personal income tax||Corporate income tax||Gaming tax||Other taxes and fees||Total||Per capita revenue**|
|Change in %||4.45%||N/A||N/A||N/A||21.37%||12.52%||7.56%|
| **Per capita figures are calculated by taking the state's total revenues and dividing by the number of state residents according to United States Census estimates.|
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers
State budgets by year
|Washington state budget -- 2014|
|Washington State Legislature|
|Introduced:||January 15, 2013|
|State House:||April 12, 2013|
|Vote (lower house):||54-43|
|State Senate:||June 8, 2013|
|Vote (upper house):||25-23|
|Conference:||June 28, 2013|
|Conference Vote (upper house):||44-4|
|Conference Vote (lower house):||81-11|
|Signed:||June 30, 2013|
See budget bill: SB 5034
Fiscal year 2014
The state's 2013-2014 biennial budget bill passed both chambers of the Washington State Legislature in a second special session on June 28, 2013. Governor Christine Gregoire signed the budget into law on June 30, 2013 after making some partial vetoes, including cutting joint legislative audit and review committee studies on performance indicators and electricity cost impacts from renewable energy standards as well as a number of studies that were required from state agencies without providing funding for those studies.
Fiscal year 2013
- See also: Washington state budget (2012-2013)
Fiscal year 2012
- See also: Washington state budget (2011-2012)
Fiscal year 2011
- See also: Washington state budget (2010-2011)
Fiscal year 2010
- See also: Washington state budget (2009-2010)
State budget historical spending below was compiled by the National Association of State Budget Officers. Figures reflect the reported "Total Expenditures" in Table 1. Figures for all columns are rendered in millions of dollars (for example, $2,448 translates to $2,448,000,000).
|Historical state budget spending in Washington ($ in millions)|
|Fiscal year||General Fund||Other funds||Federal funds||Bonds||Budget totals|
|Total||% of Budget||Total||% of Budget||Total||% of Budget||Total||% of Budget|
|General Fund: The predominant fund for financing a state’s operations. Revenues are received from broad-based state taxes. However, there are differences in how specific functions are financed from state to state.|
Other funds: Expenditures from revenue sources that are restricted by law for particular governmental functions or activities. For example, a gasoline tax dedicated to a highway trust fund would appear in the “Other funds” column. For Medicaid, other state funds include provider taxes, fees, donations, assessments, and local funds.
Federal funds: Funds received directly from the federal government.
Bonds: Expenditures from the sale of bonds, generally for capital projects.
According to a January 2014 report by the nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions, Washington had a state debt of over $89 billion. Its state debt per capita was $12,988. The report revealed that state governments faced a combined $5.1 trillion in debt, 33 percent of annual gross state product. The obligation amounts to $16,178 per capita in the nation. A bulk of the state debt -- 79 percent -- was linked to unfunded public pensions.
|Total state debt in Washington|
|Total state debt||$89,579,477,000||16|
|Per capita debt||$12,988||32|
|State and other fund expenditures||$24,992,000,000||32|
A 2012 report from the Pew Center on the States noted that Washington's pension system was funded at 95 percent at the close of fiscal year 2010, well above the 80 precent funding level experts recommend. Nevertheless, Pew designated the state's pension system as needing "improvement" due to its gradually declining funding level.
The funding ratio for the state's pension system increased from 92.88 percent in fiscal year 2007 to 93.07 percent in fiscal year 2012, an increase of 0.19 percentage points, or 0.2 percent. Unfunded liabilities increased from approximately $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2007 to roughly $4.7 billion in fiscal year 2012.
States sometimes sell general obligation bonds to investors in order to finance large-scale undertakings (e.g., road construction and other public works projects). Credit rating agencies, such as Standard and Poor's, assign grades to states, evaluating their ability to pay the principal and interest on such bonds. Standard and Poor's grades range from AAA, the highest available, to BBB, the lowest. Generally speaking, a higher credit rating indicates lower risk for an investor, which in turn lowers costs for taxpayers.
The table below lists the Standard and Poor's credit rating for Washington from 2001 to 2012 (grades from surrounding states are provided for additional context).
|S&P credit ratings from 2001 to 2012|
Federal aid to state budget
- See also: Federal aid to budgets in the 50 states
The chart below notes how much of the state’s general revenues come from the federal government. Figures were calculated by dividing each state’s federal intergovernmental revenue into its general revenue. The number in the rightmost column indicates the state's ranking in relation to the rest of the nation (e.g., if "1," the state receives the highest percentage of federal funding in the nation). Figures from neighboring states are included to provide additional context.
State governments receive aid from the federal government to fund a variety of joint programs, such as Medicaid. Federal aid varies considerably from state to state. For example, Mississippi received approximately $7.7 billion in federal aid in 2012, which accounted for more than 45 percent of the state's general revenues. By contrast, Alaska received roughly $2.9 billion in federal aid in 2012, just under 20 percent of the state's general revenues.
|Federal aid to state budgets in 2012|
|State||Federal aid as % of general revenue||Total federal aid||National rank|
According to Recovery.gov, the official government website for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Washington received $7.15 billion in federal stimulus funding between February 2009 and June 2013.
|Washington State Fiscal Information|
|Line item expenditures|
|Public employee salaries|
|Last evaluated in 2011.|
An online spending database was created for the state after the passage of Senate Bill 6818, a bill that had mandated the creation of such a database by January 1, 2009. The Washington State Fiscal Information site can be found here. Searchable state employee compensation data was added to the website in September 2011 and can be found here.
The table to the right is helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by the Washington State Fiscal Information website.
Multi-measure budget transparency profile
The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois created a multi-measure transparency profile for Washington, which measured state transparency as of September 2011 using indicators from a range of organizations. These indicators measured both website transparency and other recognized facets of governmental transparency. In addition, IGPA presented four unique indicators of non-transparency based on the observation that transfers or reassignments between general and special funds can obscure the true fiscal condition of a state.
IGPA devised a budget transparency index based on information available from the National Association of State Budget Officers. Washington tied for 20th in the nation with 12 other states, earning five out of eight possible points.
|Washington - IGPA score for budget process, contents and disclosure|
|Budget transparency indicator||Yes or no?|
|"Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" budget|
|Binding revenue forecast|
|Legislative revenue forecast|
|Constitution or statutory tax/spend limitations|
In addition to the individual state profile, IGPA offers a 50-state comparison and profiles for other states.
U.S. PIRG "Following the Money" report
- See also: Following the Money 2014 Report
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Washington received a grade of B and a numerical score of 85, indicating that Washington was an "advancing" state in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
The Washington State Auditor looks at financial information and compliance with state, federal and local laws on the part of all local governments, including schools, and all state agencies, including institutions of higher education. The State Auditor's Office publishes its audit reports online, and they can be found here. The State Auditor's Office was established in the state's Constitution as part of the executive branch of the state government. Washington citizens elect the State Auditor to four‑year terms. Brian Sonntag has been State Auditor since first elected in 1992.
The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rates Washington “timely” in filing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – the annual report of state and local governmental entities. IFTA rated 22 states timely, 22 states tardy, and six states as worst. IFTA does not consider Washington's CAFRs, and those of the other states, to be accurate representations of the state’s financial condition because the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis does not include significant liabilities for the pension plans and for other post employment benefits, such as health care. Washington's CAFRs are publications of the Washington Office of Financial Management in accordance with Revised Code of Washington 43.88.027. Victor A. Moore was appointed Director of OFM in January 2005. Duties of the Office of Financial Management include:
- Playing a central role in budget planning, policy development, and fiscal administration for the executive branch.
- Preparing the executive budget proposal and monitoring budget implementation.
- Maintaining the state government's statewide accounting systems, central books of accounts, and financial databases while also providing accounting services to state agencies.
- Overseeing statewide personal service contracting activities.
- Conducting executive policy research and developing legislation to support the governor's policy goals.
- Providing estimates of state and local population, monitoring changes in the state economy and labor force and conducting research on a variety of issues affecting the state budget as well as public policy.
- Providing a comprehensive risk management program for all state agencies.
Office of Financial Management
P.O. Box 43113
Olympia, WA 98504-3113
- Washington government sector lobbying
- Washington public pensions
- Governor of Washington
- Washington State Legislature
- Washington State Senate
- Washington House of Representatives
- Washington State Auditor
- State Budget Solutions, Washington
- Washington State Fiscal Information
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation
- Washington Policy Center
- Washington Office of Financial Management
- Washington Office of Financial Management, "Washington Trends"
- Washington State Budget and Policy Center
- Senate Bill 6818, Promoting Transparency in State Expenditures
- Evergreen Freedom Foundation home page
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- Transforming Washington's Budget
- U.S. PIRG, "Report: Transparent & Accountable Budgets," April 8, 2014
- The New York Times, "Battles loom in many states over what to do with budget surpluses," February 3, 2014
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Policy Basics: The ABCs of State Budgets," February 7, 2013
- Refers to General Fund spending. Typically in state budgets the General Fund is spending that is most directly controlled by state legislators.
- This figure is derived by calculating the percent difference between the prior two years' spending levels according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, "CPI Detailed Report Data for February 2014," accessed April 9, 2014
- InflationData.com, "Cumulative Inflation Calculator," February 28, 2014
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013," accessed February 26, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Vintage 2009: Annual Population Estimates," accessed February 26, 2014
- Washington State Legislature, "SB 5034 - 2013-14," accessed May 5, 2014
- Governor of Washington, "Veto Message on 3ESSB 5034," June 30, 2013
- State Budget Solutions, "State Budget Solutions' Fourth Annual State Debt Report," January 8, 2014
- Washington Examiner, "EXography: Unfunded public employee pensions drive state debts skyward," January 21, 2014
- State Budget Solutions "State Budget Solutions' Fourth Annual State Debt Report," January 8, 2014
- Pew Center on the States, "Widening Gap Update: Washington," accessed November 21, 2013
- Stateline: The Daily News Service of The Pew Charitable Trusts, "Infographic: S&P State Credit Ratings, 2001-2012," July 13, 2012
- United States Census Bureau, "State Government Finances: 2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- Recovery.gov, "Stimulus Spending by State," accessed February 21, 2014
- Washington State Legislature, "Washington Senate Bill 6818, Promoting Transparency in State Expenditures," 2008
- Institute of Government and Public Affairs at University of Illinois, "Home page," accessed February 21, 2014
- Institute of Government and Public Affairs at University of Illinois, "Budget Transparency Profiles - All 50 States," September 2011
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Washington State Auditor's Office Website, accessed November 17, 2009
- Institute for Truth in Accounting, “The Truth About Balanced Budgets—A Fifty State Study,” Page 35
- Washington Office of Financial Management Website, accessed November 17, 2009