Brown measure would take ‘real-world’ look at economic impact of large-scale revenue bills

Sharon Brown2015office_cropToday the Senate approved a fiscal-reform measure sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown that would establish a process for looking at the impact large-scale revenue measures would have on human behavior and how those behavioral changes would affect the economy.

“The fiscal notes we are all familiar with only ask agencies to determine their actual cost of implementing a bill,” explained Brown, a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Fiscal notes are prepared by the state Office of Financial Management, which is the governor’s budget office.

“The dynamic fiscal statements created under this bill would ask agencies affected by a revenue proposal to cast a broader net – to consider how people would shift economic activity as a result of the bill. This information would allow legislators and the public to have a more accurate idea of the net impact on our state economy of major revenue proposals.”

Under Senate Bill 5915, which passed the Senate 49-0, these dynamic statements would be extremely limited, in that only fiscal-committee members could request them, at least 60 days before a legislative session, and only for bills that would generate more than $10 million in new revenue.

Beginning in 2017, fiscal notes dealing with corrections, child welfare and mental-health issues would be required to include an estimate of impacts on expenditures of other state and local government programs, and a return on investment as a result of the legislation.

The bill also would have OFM and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy convene a workgroup to explore the establishment of a nonpartisan agency to conduct impartial fiscal analysis on behalf of the Legislature.

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.