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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.

Oregon Revenues Strong, But Clouds On Horizon

Oregon Office of Economic Analysis
A chart shows Oregon revenue spikes from Powerball tickets.

Oregon's economy continues to flourish, but the long-term outlook isn't as rosy. That was the message to lawmakers Wednesday from state economists, who released their quarterly revenue forecast.

This forecast comes as lawmakers gather in Salem for a five-week session that will give them the chance to patch up the state budget. With revenues projected to rise slightly, cuts won't be necessary.

Economists say Oregonians are enjoying wage gains across all major industries and in all parts of the state. A slowdown in manufacturing and a volatile stock market serve as a warning for the long term. But the state is doing just fine in the short term according to state economist Mark McMullen.

"In fact our advisory groups felt very strongly this time that we shouldn't overdo the pessimism and the negativity," McMullen said, "given that, to date, we were really still seeing good numbers for the most part."

State revenues for a $9 million windfall in January -- from Powerball ticket sales.

Economists also say the state is enjoying an upswing in tobacco tax revenues. They theorize that lower fuel prices are translating into more disposable income and thus an increase in sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

But while the current forecast shows a projected revenue increase of $61 million available for the current spending plan, the outlook for the following two-year budget cycle is not as optimistic. Economists trimmed $165 million from the predicted pool of revenue for the biennium that begins in July of 2017.