Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Washington state’s revenues are down, its demand for services is up. The budget won’t balance. The Legislature needs a special session to make changes. That’s been a regular theme in state government since the beginning of the recession, and it starts all over again today.
During the last decade, the state’s population grew by nearly 900,000 people, and the number of students in public schools and universities also rose. The percentage of residents below the poverty level rose to 12.3 percent from 10.6 percent. As the charts here show, revenue, spending and state employment all grew during good economic times early in the decade, and the state spent more at the end of some two-year budget cycles than it planned to at the beginning.