NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

New fiscal dashboard proposed by NPI and Senator Kuderer goes live for Washingtonians

Good news, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans! A new open gov­ern­ment tool pro­posed by the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er has recent­ly gone live and is now avail­able to help any­one inter­est­ed in bet­ter under­stand­ing pub­lic finance in Wash­ing­ton. Pre­pared by the Leg­isla­tive Eval­u­a­tion and Account­abil­i­ty Pro­gram (LEAP) and the Office of Finan­cial Man­age­ment (OFM), the Bud­get­ing for Wash­ing­ton’s Future fis­cal dash­board pro­vides use­ful, truth­ful, and accu­rate infor­ma­tion about state rev­enue and expen­di­tures, as required by the leg­is­la­tion we cre­at­ed to get rid of Tim Eyman’s push polls.

On the dash­board, you will find:

  • A sum­ma­ry of each of our adopt­ed bud­gets — oper­at­ing, cap­i­tal, and trans­porta­tion — with links to how law­mak­ers vot­ed and what’s in each
  • A cool chart depict­ing the bud­get­ed amounts for the func­tion­al areas of gov­ern­ment — a way to see where your tax dol­lars are going
  • Links to OFM’s pre­sen­ta­tion of state rev­enue and expen­di­tures per $1,000 of per­son­al income, which allows for com­par­isons across time periods
  • An analy­sis of bills rais­ing tax­es or fees that passed the Legislature
Inaugural fiscal dashboard prepared by LEAP and OFM

Screen­shot of the first edi­tion of the dash­board, cre­at­ed in the sum­mer of 2023

The last sec­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful — it pro­vides, in a nice­ly orga­nized table for­mat, an account­ing of the bills that increased fees or tax­es. It’s even sortable. You can click on the notice next to any bill to see how law­mak­ers vot­ed on it and how much mon­ey it’s pro­ject­ed to bring in over the next decade.

(Note that bud­get­ing is typ­i­cal­ly done in two year incre­ments, and cost pro­jec­tions are less like­ly to be accu­rate after four to five years.)

Thir­ty-four bills from the 2023 leg­isla­tive ses­sion are cur­rent­ly list­ed in the table. Most raised fees; a few raised tax­es. With a cou­ple clicks or taps, you can obtain the text of any of them as well as the fis­cal impact analysis.

This dash­board, which will be updat­ed by August 15th of each year, replaces what Tim Eyman called “advi­so­ry votes,” but which were real­ly harm­ful push polls.

As the intro­duc­tion explains:

Dur­ing the 2023 ses­sion, the Leg­is­la­ture passed Engrossed Sub­sti­tute Sen­ate Bill (ESSB) 5082, which repealed advi­so­ry votes and estab­lished this web­page to inform vot­ers about the state bud­get, as well as to share cost analy­ses for bills passed dur­ing the most recent leg­isla­tive ses­sion. By August 15 each year, you will find the lat­est infor­ma­tion as pro­vid­ed by the Leg­isla­tive Eval­u­a­tion and Account­abil­i­ty Pro­gram (LEAP) Com­mit­tee and the Office of Finan­cial Man­age­ment (OFM).

ESSB 5082 went into effect on July 23rd, 2023, after a five year effort by our team to get it through both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture. Prime spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er (with the com­pan­ion offered by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Amy Walen in the House), the bill removed a cost­ly bar­ri­er to vot­ing while pro­vid­ing for the cre­ation of the dashboard.

For vis­i­bil­i­ty, in years when the state cre­ates a voter’s pam­phlet, there will be a page in the print edi­tion that con­tains a quick response code, a URL, and instruc­tions for eas­i­ly access­ing the dashboard.

We’re delight­ed that this resource is now avail­able to the peo­ple of the State of Wash­ing­ton and encour­age read­ers to book­mark it for easy reference.

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