SALEM — There won’t be an immediate need for budget cuts beyond those the Legislature enacted earlier this year after the quarterly revenue forecast released Tuesday showed a largely stable budget.
Economists project that tax and lottery collections in the current two-year budget will be down $22 million from their estimates three months ago — a small fraction of the $14.8 billion in total tax and lottery revenue. The decline was offset by legal settlements, accounting maneuvers and other actions approved earlier this year to rebalance the state budget.
When those one-time cash influxes are counted, the projection is up $116 million from the earlier estimate. But the forecast for a slight drop in anticipated revenue means economists aren’t projecting a significant influx of unexpected cash that might allow some of the cuts to be reversed.
“The slow growth outlook that we expected came to pass for the most part for our revenues,” said Mark McMullen, the interim state economist.
The Legislature’s Emergency Board is expected to vote today on a plan to eliminate 188 state jobs under a $28 million budget cut that lawmakers approved earlier this year.
Lawmakers directed state agencies to trim middle management, aiming for a goal of 11 employees for every supervisor in most agencies. Employees whose primary job is dealing with reporters or the Legislature also were targeted, along with spending on contract services and advertising.
“The budget adjustments we made in the February session have positioned us well for the second half of the biennium, but we still face challenges,” said Senate President Peter Courtney, a Salem Democrat. “Unemployment is still too high. Our schools and services for seniors and people with disabilities are facing very tight budgets.”
Based on Tuesday’s forecast, the budget has $95 million remaining in reserves to absorb future revenue downgrades before the two-year budget cycle ends next year.
Republicans seized on the drop in tax and lottery collections.
“It’s clear we continue to have a jobs problem, especially in communities outside Portland that are falling further behind,” House Republican Leader Kevin Cameron of Salem said in a statement.