OLYMPIA — The state's economic forecast for the remainder of this two-year budget cycle comes out this morning, and the real question here is not “Will it be bad?” but “How bad will it be?”
In June, the forecast all but wiped out the budgetary cushion, aka the ending fund balance, the Legislature thought it left at the end of its special session. Since that time, most economic news has been worse, not better.
Chief Economic Forecaster Arun Raha is scheduled to begin his presentation at 10 a.m. to the forecasting council. He typically gives a midline forecast, as well as a pessimistic and optimistic estimate.
A major drop in expected revenues early in the biennium — that is, in the next six months — could prompt calls from some legislators for another special session to trim the budget. Gov. Chris Gregoire has already ordered state agency leaders to come up with plans to cut 5 percent and 10 percent from the spending plans they were given by the Legislature in June.
We'll have updates for you later in the morning.