OLYMPIA — The “other shoe” in the state's budget picture dropped lightly today.
The caseload forecast, which along with last week's revenue forecast helps predict whether the state's long-term finances are in the red or black, had some good news in it. Some of the big costs of state government — the number of kids in public schools, the number of inmates in prisons, the number of families receiving temporary assistance or medical assistance, the number children in foster care — were projected to be lower than forecasters thought in February.
Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform and a person who understands these numbers far more than Spin Control ever will, says the changes overall add about $56 million to the state General Fund's bottom line. That's a line that's extremely narrow right now, because the Lege didn't leave much in reserve.
Of course, the savings could be wiped out tomorrow, depending on what the U.S. Supreme Court does on federal health care reform. “For today at least, however, good budget news,” Mercier says.
The full report can be found here.