Steve Lerch is stepping down as Washington state government’s chief economic forecaster after more than a decade in that role. He comments on the state economy and the latest state revenue forecast. Plus, he reflects on his time on the job, including the difficulties of economic forecasting during a once-a-century pandemic, and the legislative creation of an independent forecast council, which has insulated forecasts from political pressure in Washington – unlike some other states.
When the Legislature convenes at the Capitol early in 2024, lawmakers will work to write a supplemental budget that makes tweaks to the 2023-25 spending plan approved in April. More money than usual is on the table, thanks to proceeds from Washington’s new cap and trade program, and from a new capital gains tax. We talk with State Senator Lynda Wilson of Vancouver, the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways & Means Committee. She’s focused on affordability, energy prices, public safety, and recovery from COVID learning loss.