OLYMPIA, Sept. 7.—The latest state economic forecast says so far, so good. And if nothing changes in the next 12 days, odds are there won’t be the kind of bad news lawmakers have gotten for the last three years.
The economic forecast is really the precursor to the “big one” – the forecast of state tax revenue around which lawmakers build their budget. That one is due Sept. 19. Steve Lerch, newly appointed as the permanent executive director of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, said Thursday tax collections so far are up $22 million over his last prediction in June. “So we’re essentially right on target.”
It doesn’t mean things are getting better. But things aren’t getting worse, either, and after quarter after quarter when tax-revenue projections have nose-dived, you take good news where you can find it. Of course, Lerch’s economic projection comes with all the usual caveats. Europe might melt down and take American banks down with it. Congress might reach an impasse on extension of Bush-era tax cuts, and the ensuing breakdown might force “sequestration” – massive cuts in federal spending – sending the country back into recession. And it appears economic growth in China and other major Asian economies might be slowing. So who can tell?
But for now, revenue is nine-tenths of a percentage point above the prediction, “essentially right on the forecast, so we’re really happy about that,” Lerch said. That doesn’t include tax revenue for August, but that number will be available before the next forecast. So knock on wood.