State economists: Maybe there won’t be a budget surplus…

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Economic forecasters are likely to downgrade a just-released three-year outlook that had raised the prospect of lawmakers avoiding any cuts to the budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins in July 2012, state economist Amy Baker said Thursday via The News Service of Florida. The rosier estimate was prepared before evidence of new economic problems emerged in August. But the state’s most recent projections for population and the national economy in the near-term are already lower than those factored into the three-year outlook, Baker said, leading to the pessimism about the old forecast. “If we reduce our estimates for general revenue either this year or next year or together by more than 0.6 percent … then you’ve eaten up that $275 million and you have a budget gap,” Baker said. She added, however, that the budget gap lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott will face in the coming fiscal year is unlikely to be as large as those the Legislature has struggled to close in recent years. But she said it would limit what lawmakers could do and make it unlikely that cuts from this year or earlier years will be restored.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.