The Ottumwa Courier

October 10, 2013

Iowa budget panel predicts revenue growth

CATHERINE LUCEY
Associated Press

---- — DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A panel of Iowa budget experts predicted a slight increase in tax revenue for the current fiscal year during a Thursday meeting.

The Revenue Estimating Conference predicts net state revenue — made up of taxes and other sources — will come in at about $6.69 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That represents a slight increase over the previous year's revenue, though a direct comparison is difficult because state lawmakers changed some accounting practices during the most recent legislative session.

The three-member panel includes Department of Management Director David Roederer, Legislative Services Agency director Holly Lyons and an independent member, Mason City economist David Underwood. The group attributed the modest increase to a stable economy in Iowa, noting steady job growth and a healthy corporate sector.

"We're seeing steady growth, but we're not seeing exuberant growth," Roederer said.

For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the panel predicted revenues of $6.98 billion, continuing the pattern of growth. But the group warned that there are risks on the economic horizon, noting unrest in the middle east and sluggish growth for the national economy. They also said that if the federal government shutdown continued for additional weeks, it could take a toll on Iowa's finances.

"In today's economy, no state is an island unto themselves," Roederer said.

The numbers discussed at the meeting do not have any bearing on the state budget process. The panel will meet again in December to set the revenue projection that Gov. Terry Branstad must use to craft the next state budget.

The Revenue Estimating Conferences was created during budget reforms in the 1990s, and is designed to force the governor, Legislature and an independent economist to all agree on how much the state will collect in taxes and use that as a base for a new state budget.