Clarifying the 2015 budget picture

Kriss posted yesterday on the improved revenue picture. As Brad Shannon reports, the higher revenue collections are accompanied by higher caseload and enrollment numbers.

State budget director David Schumacher told the Caseload Forecast Council meeting in Olympia that an expected increase in K-12 school enrollments alone may add $380 million to the state’s costs through June 2017, which is the end of the next two-year budget cycle.

The next official revenue forecast will be released next week. Next month, the governor proposes his budget, which now must be stretched to accommodate passage of Initiative 1351. As Shannon writes, the state budget director says it’s going to be tough.

OFM is predicting a shortfall could be as much as $3 billion, despite a potential $2.8 billion increase in revenue in the next biennium above what was forecast for the current biennium that ends in June 2015.

The shortfall includes rising costs for pensions, health care programs and debt service as well as compensation adjustments for K-12 teachers, higher education staffers and state-agency employees.

Schumacher said voter approval of Initiative 1351’s class-size reductions in K-12 schools could add another $2 billion to the budget challenge.

Rep. Ross Hunter, who will chair the House Ways and Means Committee, has  released his overview of the budget challenge (printer-friendly).

…we face one of the most difficult budget cycles of my time in the Legislature, and perhaps worse than we’ve seen in many decades.

It’s a thoughtful piece, one that sheds light on the way the House’s top budget writer will approach the problem.