Notes From Olympia: March 17, Week 10 of the 2023 Legislative Session
This edition explains the ins-and-outs of state revenue forecasts and the interesting history of the Irv Newhouse Building.
A rainy start to week ten
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)
The Irv Newhouse Building on the Capitol Campus could be demolished as early as today to make way for a new Senate office building. What was the Newhouse building’s original name?
State revenue forecasts. Programs, services and institutions supported by the state government are funded by revenue from state taxes and fees as well as a few other sources, such as the federal government. As you may recall from a previous story, the Legislature must adopt four-year balanced budgets based on anticipated revenue.
Since 1984, the state has generated nonpartisan economic and revenue forecasts, which are overseen and approved by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (Council). The approved forecasts serve as the basis for state budgeting. The Council currently includes four bipartisan legislators, the leaders of the state Department of Revenue and the Office of Financial Management, as well as the State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti. In addition, the agency has five staff including its Executive Director Dr. Steven Lerch, Ph.D. — the state’s Chief Economist.
Forecasts are developed four times a year, with the November revenue forecast serving as the basis of the Governor’s Proposed Budget, released annually each December. The revenue forecast released in February (even-numbered years) or March (odd-numbered years) provides the latest revenue estimates for legislative budget writers.
The economic forecasts consider a variety of factors that could impact the state’s economic condition, including overall economic growth (GDP), employment data, inflationary data, consumer spending habits, interstate and international trade, strength of the dollar, major global events impacting trade (ex., War in Ukraine), among other key factors. See the March 2023 Economic Review as an example of the complexities of these analyses. The revenue forecast will include an official projection of revenues as well as optimistic and pessimistic forecasts.
Here is the methodology and detailed information on calculated costs, revenues and caseload forecasts related to the Governor’s Proposed Budget for the 2023-25 legislative biennium, as an example. Revenue and cost drivers include revenues and fees coming into the state coffers, caseload assumptions for major programs (ex., state-funded health care, prisons, etc.), increased costs of doing business, costs of tentative union collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), cost-of-living adjustments for the state pension and retirement programs, debt service and new gubernatorial policy and related funding priorities for the upcoming session.
The March 2023 revenue forecast will be released at 2 p.m. on March 20 and can be viewed on TVW. We expect both the Senate and House will release their respective Operating, Capital and Transportation budgets shortly after the revenue forecast.
Following the release of the budgets, the Senate and House fiscal committees will hold public hearings for groups and individuals to provide feedback about what is (and, more importantly, is not) included. As of this writing, the Senate Ways and Means Committee has a 4 p.m. public hearing on March 20 for the proposed Capital Budget as well as a 2 p.m. public hearing on March 24 for their proposed Operating Budget. House budgets are expected the week of March 27.
After the release of the respective budget proposals, the Senate and House will each appoint a “conference committee.” These conference committee members will work to resolve differences between the two bodies’ approaches prior to the release of finalized 2023-25 budgets that will be considered by both chambers prior to adjournment of the 2023 legislative session.
Bill Tracker: Key Early Learning Bills
As the legislative session progresses, our resource page will update with a weekly bill tracker. Please note that legislation changes quickly, so the version on our website may not represent a bill’s latest version as it is published the Thursday of each week.
Highway Building/Irv Newhouse Building/“INB”
(Photo Credit: the kind construction worker who accepted my phone over the fence to snap a closer photo)
The Irv Newhouse Building, formally known as the Highway Building, was built in 1934 as a “temporary” structure. For 89 years, it housed many Senate Republicans and their caucus staff. Given that the building was intended to be temporary, it is not surprising to learn it is in disarray with many structural and safety hazards, including stormwater infiltration and the potential of falling bricks.
The Legislature has approved a multi-year and multi-building broader campus modernization plan (learn more in this video overview) that includes funding for construction for a replacement building for Newhouse (also referred to as the “INB”). According to this article providing an overview of construction plans, the new Newhouse Building will house Senate security, the joint legislative Page School and auxiliary page room, meeting and training rooms, several legislative operations office and space for senators and caucus offices. Additional parking will also be built next to the building.
The new building will include four stories and will be partially built from wood from salvaged timber (including some from the original Newhouse building), it will be environmentally responsible and will match the neoclassical style of the campus with a northwest flare. Additionally, the landscape surrounding the building will include ample amounts of greenery to match the neighborhood surrounding the South Capitol Campus neighborhood as well as a garden of native flora. The anticipated completion date is November 2024.
Overseen by the Department of Enterprise Services, the project also includes the demolition of two houses that formerly held the Capitol press corps as well as the old Visitor Center. As proof that humans are creatures of habit, there was quite a bit of grumbling when the construction fencing went up around the perimeter of the project, cutting off access to a walkway folks had traversed for decades.
Late Senator Irv Newhouse
(Photo Credit: Washington State Legislature, pg. 42)
Who was Irv Newhouse? Irving (Irv) Ralph Newhouse (October 16, 1920 – March 29, 2001) was a state legislator who represented the Yakima Valley for almost 35 years. He was born in Sunnyside, graduated from Washington State College (now Washington State University) and served in the Navy in World War II. Senator Newhouse and his wife Ruth were married for 55 years and had six children, one of whom is U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse, who is currently serving Washington’s 4th congressional district in central Washington and a former member of the Washington State Legislature himself.
Senator Irv Newhouse was a member of the Washington House of Representatives from 1965 to 1980 and the State Senate from 1980 to 1999. During his time in the Legislature, he served as the Senate Republican Floor Leader, Senate President Pro Tempore as well as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was well regarded by both parties as a strong negotiator, parliamentarian and legal scholar, even though he did not hold a law degree. In 1998, state lawmakers honored Sen. Newhouse by naming the Senate Republican office building after him. If you want to step back in time, the dedication ceremony is on TVW.
Many of us did not know the original name of the building because the engraved “Highway Building” name was for years covered by a sign signifying it as the “Irv Newhouse Building.” In mid-February, that sign was presented to Senator Newhouse’s family (including Congressman Dan Newhouse) as a keepsake.
Dorothy Hibbard Newhouse, Congressman Dan Newhouse, Senator Judy Warnick, Senator John Braun and Secretary of the Senate Sarah Bannister, 2/16/23
(Photo Credit: Columbia Basin Herald)
Congressman Dan Newhouse views the sign in honor of his father, 2/16/23
(Photo Credit: Columbia Basin Herald)
About the Author
Director, Policy & Advocacy, Start Early Washington
Erica Hallock serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Start Early Washington. She has worked in early childhood, health and human services policy in both California and Washington state.More About Erica
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