Today the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will meet today at 10 a.m. in the Senate Rules Room to adopt a new forecast that will drive budget decisions in this session. Modestly positive news is expected, according to early reports.
Live blogging below
10:43 The meeting wraps up.
"I think we are in a solid place, to finish by March 8," says Murray. He notes that in December he advocated waiting for this forecast before adopting a budget or asking voters for a revenue package.
"I think it's worth pointing out that this is the first time in years that we've seen at least a stable revenue forecast. ... I think we need to acknowledge that things are getting better. We still have some structural problems."
10:38 Asked about when budgets were to be released, Sen. Murray says, "If they (the House) are Tuesday, Wednesday next week, we are early the following week, I would guess."
10:35 "Depending on what action we decide to take with the governor's other moves in the budget, the draconian cuts shrink somewhat," says Sen. Murray.
It is effectively a $1 billion dollar problem to solve, says one lawmaker. Sen. Murray notes that is in the realm where the Senate moved in a bipartisan fashion last year.
Asked what this means for revenue and other budget approaches, Sen. Murray says, "Those discussions are fluid enough, at least in our caucus, where they could go anywhere."
10:30 "Our negative ending fund balance is about $855 (million) now" says OFM Director Marty Brown, noting that $50 million of the uptick is the result of action taken in the special session. That negative is with no ending fund balance.
10:27 Responding to questions about the relationship between job growth and population growth, Lerch says, "By the end of this forecast, we're down to about 7-and-half percent unemployment, so were not down to that sort of equilibrium."
10:24 Sen. Murray notes that this forecast does not include the recent agreement in congress to continue a tax break and unemployment benefits, and asks Lerch what impact that will have.
"Ball park we think that extending through the end of the year woudl be in the order of $50 to $75 million," said Lerch.
10:17 "We expect we will get back to pre-recession employment sometime in late 2014," Lerch says, noting that is better than the US as a whole, but still not great. "Growth is slow, unemployment unfortunately remains high."
10:15 Productivity is high, which has helped businesses return to high levels of output, but increased efficiency has kept the demand for new hires low, says Lerch.
Meanwhile, the double-dip in real estate prices has continued. "We really need price stabiliyt in the housing market, and that hasn't happened."
Areospace hiring has almost doubled the amount of jobs lost during the recession, Lerch notes. Exports continue as a strong point.
10:12 The world economy remains a point of high concern, and Europe in particular remains on the brink of recession, says Steve Lerch, interim forecast director. "Not everything is gloomy, but we want to emphasize there are those risks."
10:07 The forecast is up $96 million – but wait. $51 million of that is the result of action taken in the special session to modify the way the state deals with unclaimed property. So the actual, economically-driven increase is $45 million up.
That’s still good news, after three consecutive quarterly forecasts that drove down expectations by more than $2 billion.