Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Well the state budget outlook is in and......they're not quite sure. Fiscal experts told lawmakers today they expect $285 million more in revenues than projected. Rep. Jim Crawford and others were quick to point out to reporters that doesn't mean there's a surplus. Basically that means there are still more bills to pay than money available.

It appears lawmakers will use that money to fill a gap expected in the 2007-2008 part of the upcoming two year budget. Rep. Jim Crawford expects the deficit to then be about $500 million. Other fiscal folks told us it could be anywhere from $200-500 million. While that seems like an obscene amount of money, it is just a percentage when you're talking about a $20 billion budget.

The real fear is what might happen in 2008-2009. On and off the record lawmakers are seriously worried that revenues will fall and the cost of a growing state will put the state in a massive bind. Will that mean massive cuts and job losses? Too early to tell, lawmakers say but they are clearly worried and that could have a significant impact on how the upcoming budget is put together and eventually passed.

Tomorrow, fiscal experts will brief lawmakers on Medicaid. There's a huge push to take on the county's cost.

Former NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr says he's running for governor. He's an interesting candidate by all accounts. Could do well with the base for the primary and has a strong background and is clean politically. It's shaping up to be an Orr-Bill Graham race. If Orr wins it will be interesting to see how he overcomes his relatively unknown status in many parts of the country.

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