WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Josh Lehner has the unenviable job of giving Oregon's governor bad news.
Last week, Lehner, an economist with the state, delivered the state's quarterly forecast, predicting how much revenue from taxes and other sources Oregon state government will have to spend.
The report was sobering.
Lehner forecasts state revenue will be down more than $2.5 billion for the next biennium (the state operates on a two-year budget), which is about 11 percent of the state's general fund budget.
And his forecast went out 10 years, predicting there would be 34,000 fewer Oregonians because of the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic.
While Lerner and the Office of Economic Analysis are number crunchers, he also has to predict human behavior, which drives revenue. Fewer people eating out—plus less liquor and lottery sales—equals less taxes. Fewer people moving to Oregon because of lack of opportunity equals less taxes. More consumption of cannabis equals more taxes.
In this conversation with WW editor Mark Zusman, Lerner offers his look into the crystal ball.