I think it hardly needs mentioning again, but I guess I will: the legislative process in North Dakota probably makes it even more important that we have some confidence in our revenue forecasts. Our legislators are meeting for three months to determine budgets for the next two years. There is always the possibility of a special session if need arises, but you want that to be the truly exceptional case. Now I am not suggesting that anyone will ever get the numbers spot on, 100% accurate, but we can get closer.
I will be attending the Second State Demographics Conference in Bismarck on Monday the 27th. Okay, that is not quite accurate. I am giving a keynote address as well as running a breakout session. The keynote looks at the how and why of demographic analysis in the state of North Dakota. In the breakout I am actually showing how I came up with the various different items in my presentation from sources to analysis. The spreadsheet (or spreadsheets, not sure if it will be one Excel workbook or many) will be available at the conference and later on here.
While I have yet to read the budget document in its entirety I think people are short-changeing the strategic aspects to budget announcements. I include a typical news article below. Offering up a particular suggestion for direction and then being willing to give on some aspects likely gets you back where you wanted to be originally.
The state released an updated forecast from Moody’s today along with some slides that make little sense (found here). I would go into the details of the forecast but why bother? We have absolutely no insight into the forecast process followed, the assumptions underlying any model relationships, or even a list of variables employed and the time period considered. Seriously, if this were my forecasting class, they would fail.
For the last few days I focused on state level tax data. The release of a new forecast and the general state of the forecast process promises many more posts to come on this topic. I thought for today I would turn toward a more local number. Grand Forks had its largest month for sales tax collections in its recorded history. What does this look like?