Daily Archives: April 6, 2015

Alaska’s true fiscal picture …

Fiscal TransparencyLast Friday, the Department of Revenue issued the Spring 2015 update to the Fall 2014 Revenue Sources Book (RSB).  Among other things, each year the Fall Book contains a forward look at the revenue portion of the state’s fiscal condition over the next 10 years.  As the legislature and Governor finalize the upcoming year’s budget, the Spring update revises that forecast, usually focused on the next two years, for known and measurable changes occurring since the Fall forecast.

While DOR adjusted the first two years at the time it issued the Fall Book, the oil prices contained in the Fall Book largely were set last October, before the full outlines of the 2015 oil price plunge were known.  As a result, while the Fall Book gave observers a feel for where Alaska’s financials were headed the next two years, the primary forecasts contained in the Fall Book did little to provide a realistic picture beyond that.

The Spring update starts down that road by revising the oil price forecast across the same ten year period as the Fall Book.  While some, including me, may argue that even the Spring update paints too rosy a picture of future oil prices — for example, the Spring update forecasts the FY 2022 oil price to average at around $102; as of this writing, the current futures market prices for the same period level out at $77 (Brent) and $66 (WTI) — it nevertheless is a more realistic picture than derived from the Fall Book. Continue reading