Revenue projections spot-on

Members of the state’s Economic Forum were told Friday that the revenue projections they made in May are basically spot-on with actual collections so far this biennium.

The forum is a five-member panel of financial and business experts whose job it is to take the politics out of revenue projections used to build the state budget.

The panel projected $3.08 billion in general fund revenues for fiscal 2013. Collections finished the year at $3.13 billion — a difference of just 1.46 percent, or $45.8 million more than projected for the year.

“On average, I think the forum did pretty good,” said legislative economist and forum staffer Russ Guindon.

Chairman Ken Wiles and member Marv Leavitt agreed. Wiles credited staffers with providing the information that made accurate forecasts possible.

The comments came during the forum’s scheduled review of its work setting revenues for the end of the 2013 Legislature.

The panel was created after the mess created during the 1991 Legislature when first the governor’s office and then the Legislature itself basically raised revenue projections artificially to match what they wanted to spend. When those revenues failed to materialize, a special session was needed to pare state spending. Those cuts resulted in more than 200 state worker layoffs.

Staffers also advised the forum that the projections are on track through the first portion of this fiscal year. Although the two biggest tax generators — sales and gaming taxes — are lagging a bit through November, that amount is being more than made up by other non-major general fund sources, such as live entertainment and business license fees. The eight major revenue streams were off three-tenths of a percent, while the large non-major sources were up eight-tenths.

When all general fund revenue sources are added together for the first five months of this fiscal year, the total is off just a hair from the forum’s May projections.

“When I look at this, I see we missed by a tenth of a percent,” Wiles said. “I think that’s in the margin of error.”

Through November, total general fund collections came to just over $898 million.


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