State News Roundup

December 20, 2012

It can be difficult to write up a budget when a cloud of uncertainty is hovering over the economy. That’s currently the situation Ohio budget director Tim Keen is finding himself in. According to the Coshocton Tribune, Keen is currently in the process of writing  the governor’s two-year state spending blueprint. He’s worried if the country falls off the ‘fiscal cliff,’ Ohio could find itself in familiar territory – dealing with budget challenges, while residents are losing their jobs and their money.“We are monitoring that and we’re trying to keep that into consideration as we move through this budget and think about putting a budget together for fiscal years ’14 and ’15,” Keen said in an interview. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman echoed Keen’s worries over budget woes, saying, “Congress should not be coming home for Christmas until they’ve solved this national crisis.”

According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, a six-page report from the National Economic Council revealed going over the ‘fiscal cliff’ could cause a loss in income for many local families. This lost income could result in reduced consumer spending of almost $300 million for Wyoming. If this prediction were to become a reality, local economist Dr. Wenlin Liu said the state’s annual sales tax receipts would be cut by about $4.8 million. Although that’s only a fraction of Wyoming’s annual state taxes, the drop in spending could impact local businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry.

Utah’s economy is expected to stay at pre-recession levels in 2013. As long as our leaders can avoid falling off the ‘fiscal cliff,’ that is. According to Deseret News, 2012 was a “surprisingly” strong year economically for Utah, due in part to increased retail and commercial development. Employment numbers have also reached pre-recession levels, sitting at 5.6 percent, the sixth lowest in the country. However, the uncertainty surrounding Capitol Hill is beginning to make Utah citizens worrisome. “If we don’t see the right kind of economic leadership, we’re vulnerable,” Natalie Gochnour, chief economist and executive vice president for the Salt Lake Chamber, said.

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