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
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During the 2023 session, the Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 5082, which repealed advisory votes and established this webpage to inform voters about the state budget, as well as to share cost analyses for bills passed during the most recent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.