A panel of state financial experts will meet tomorrow to set a new estimate of state tax revenue, a figure that’s used by lawmakers to draft state spending plans. Dick Oshlo, Governor Culver’s budget director, expects the panel to be "relatively conservative" and to predict an "economic downturn" in the next year. However, Oshlo says for the time being, Iowa appears to be doing better than other states as the unemployment rate isn’t going up and other economic trends appear solid.
"The question I think here in Iowa is how long it will take for us to continue escaping the national problems," Oshlo says.
Iowa Department of Economic Development director Mike Tramontina says while some Iowans have been losing their jobs, the number of people in the Iowa workforce is steady, if not growing. "We’ve seen some layoffs in Iowa, much less than the rest of the country, and somehow we’ve been able to handle and to absorb those," Tramontina says.
According to Tramontina, the strength of Iowa’s economy is its diversity as Iowa’s no longer a state totally dependent on agriculture with industries like financial services and manufacturing accounting for a bigger share of the state’s economy than agriculture. Tramontina says many Iowa companies and individuals benefit from the weak dollar, too, as export demand is strong overseas for Iowa-made products and Iowa-grown commodities.
"The economy is adjusting. Our companies are adjusting and we’re still growing strong," Tramontina says. Tramontina and Oshlo made their remarks this week at an economic forum hosted by www.iowapolitics.com .
The three members of the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference are scheduled to meet tomorrow at the statehouse tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m. The head of the governor’s Department of Management, the head of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the retired chief financial officer of a Mason City business make up the panel.