April 30, 2008

I’d Prefer “Melancholy” to “Pessimistic”

By Randy Hodgins

Here’s a story that popped up on the web a couple of days ago summarizing the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) most recent fiscal survey of the states.  SPOILER WARNING: you might get depressed if you read any further.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that budget misery is infecting many states in the U.S. and heightening the anxiety of most higher education leaders therein.  The spring 2008 survey by NCSL of state fiscal conditions makes it clear that bad budget times appear to be spreading, with almost half of the states predicting budget gaps by fiscal year 2009.

Of more concern is the general “mood” of legislative fiscal directors.  Although budget deficits and sluggish revenue growth seem to be common problems everywhere, only four states are downright “pessimistic” about the future.  Arizona, New York, Delaware, and yes, Washington fall into the most dire “pessmistic” category.  Most states seem “concerned” or “stable” with three states actually feeling “optimistic” including the oil and mineral-rich empires of Alaska and Wyoming.  You guys just wait until we invent that hydrogen-cell car!

While I know the Washington state budget outlook for next session is certainly not rosy, we do enjoy a pretty sizeable budget surplus that should come in handy next year when it’s time to tally-up the debits and credits.  So, let’s try and keep our chins up and reject that negative “stinkin’ thinkin’”  Let’s decide now to feel “melancholy about next session as we pine for the days of large budget surpluses way back in the olden days of 2007.

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