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Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm in Olympia at a session of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. The Executive Director, Arun Raha, is releasing a "early guidance" revenue forecast. As expected, the news is bad.

For the current biennium, the Council is now expecting $721 million less in general fund revenue than projected in November. For the 2009-11 biennium, they're expecting almost $1.6 billion less. That's a total decrease of $2.3 billion.

What does it mean? It means that our ability to continue our investments in education, communities, health, and economic security is threatened. It means the federal stimulus money may be swamped by declining state revenue. It means the conversation about what kind of revenue increase we should consider is even more urgent.

What's the total deficict? The number that has been used since December is $6 billion. Revenue is down by $2.3 billion. But adding those together doesn't give the complete picture. The need for public structures from health insurance to community colleges has increased since the $6 billion was published.

I'll post more details and maybe a graph or two tomorrow.

Note: Dr. Raha emphasized that this forecast is preliminary and unofficial. Economic conditions could change significantly before the official forecast on March 19. He also emphasized that the bad news is offset by the return of Ken Griffey. Jr.

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