The state's latest quarterly revenue forecast is in. The good news is that short term revenue is up slightly, about $8 million through the end of the current biennium. The bad news is that the longterm forecast is down slightly, about $88 million over the course of the 2013-2015 biennium. The no news is that this really isn't all that much different from the previous revenue forecast.
Governor Chris Gregoire sums up all you really need to know:
“We have a [$900 million] shortfall even before we begin trying to address McCleary,” Gregoire said. “I’ve instructed state agencies and my fiscal staff to scrub the budget for every possible savings. But, as I’ve been saying for months, it will not be possible to solve this problem entirely with spending cuts.”
Whether Governor-elect Jay Inslee really needed to pledge not to raise taxes in order to win election we'll never know. But regardless, Democratic legislators don't need Inslee's support. Since any substantive tax increase would end up coming before voters via referendum or initiative anyway, lawmakers might as well just bypass the governor and refer a revenue proposal directly to the people.
That's not my preferred way to govern, but thanks to our initiative and referendum system, that's the political reality here in Washington state. So we might as well use it as best we can.