Frugal Wash. agencies now saving $100M a year

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington agencies that are already adjusting to budget cuts have still managed to save even more during the economic downturn, leaving about $100 million a year unspent.

The surplus cash has provided state lawmakers a boost as revenues have been slow to recover. Agencies are typically supposed to get some of that money back as an incentive to save, but lawmakers have been seizing the extra dollars to put back in the general fund.

Those so-called reversions accounted for 15 percent of the $480 budget adjustments that lawmakers made during the special session.

The statewide savings have grown dramatically since the start of the recession. Between 2000 and 2006, agencies had an average of $28 million in leftovers annually. They've averaged $100 million over the past three years, including $105 million in fiscal year 2011.