Revenue forecast sets stage for big choices
February 24th, 2012
Lincoln, NE – The final forecast for state tax revenues before the Legislature makes some big budget decisions was finalized Friday. And while the numbers remain unchanged, that sets the stage for some important choices in the coming weeks.
Members of the stateâ€™s economic forecasting advisory board were generally optimistic about the economy. But they tempered that optimism with concern about potential developments. North Platte banker Rick Kolkman pointed to agriculture.
â€œOne concern we have is the rapidly escalating price of land,â€ Kolkman said. â€œAnd weâ€™re thinking that thereâ€™s going to be a correction sometime down the road when commodity prices dip a little bit, that we could see some â€“ little disruption there.â€
Laurence Lanphier, chairman of the board and an accountant in Omaha, said that cityâ€™s economy seemed to be plugging along. But he had some global concerns.
â€œThe Euro zone, Korea, Iran, Pakistan â€“ those are all factors that we donâ€™t really know if and when or how theyâ€™re going to impact the economy,â€ Lanphier said. â€œAnd then of course the oil prices and the value of the dollar, as it goes up and our exports decrease, there could be some serious problems there.â€
With the boardâ€™s forecast for state revenues holding steady, that leaves it to legislators to reconcile competing demands on the state budget. Gov. Dave Heineman called the unchanged forecast â€œpositive news,â€ and repeated his call for tax cuts to be the top legislative priority. But Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said even with scaled-back projections for state school aid increases, thereâ€™s around a $100 million shortfall in the next budget. Lawmakers will resume the task of balancing these and other competing demands next week.
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