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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

State Economist: Oregon's Growth Rate Improving

Oregon's economic outlook is looking brighter. That's according to state economists, who issued their quarterly revenue forecast Thursday. The news comes as lawmakers get ready to put together the state's next two-year spending plan.

The slow and steady improvement is still steady, just not quite as slow. The overall growth rate is still a bit behind past expansions, but state economist Mark McMullen says some of the factors holding back Oregon's economy are looking better, such as jobs and the housing market.

"We expect our growth, the growth rate of Oregon, in terms of economic output and employment and the like, to pick up, to be a little better than the lackluster slow gains we've seen since the beginning of 2010."

McMullen is predicting a roughly 1 percent increase -- more than $150 million -- in the amount of money available for lawmakers to spend, compared to previous outlooks.

But it's not enough extra money to completely eliminate discussion of higher taxes, and Democrats say all options are still on the table. Republicans say, then so are more cuts to public pensions. Those are still on the table as well. 

The increased revenue hasn't fundamentally changed the nature of the discussion in Salem over how to craft the upcoming two-year budget. It does, however, bring in more actual money to work with.

On the Web:

Oregon revenue forecast - Office of Economic Analysis