Iowa's revenue picture continues to improve, with the state's Revenue Estimating Conference now projecting that an additional $34.1 million will be collected in the current fiscal year over previous estimates and $85.5 million next year.

The new estimates are the ones used by the governor and lawmakers to put together a fiscal 2012 budget. The projections mark an improvement over an October forecast when the estimating conference said it expected the state to collect nearly $300 million, or 2.2%, more in revenue during fiscal 2011 and 3.3% more in fiscal 2012. The state is operating on a $5.28 billion fiscal 2011 budget.

Iowa has weathered the recession better than many of its Midwestern counterparts, closing the last fiscal year with $755 million in various reserve accounts. Howwever, it still faces a deficit of at least $500 million in the next fiscal year due to the use of nonrecurring revenues in fiscal 2011, such as stimulus funds, according to legislative figures.

Iowa has $770 million of rated debt that either carries its moral obligation or appropriation pledge. The state does not have direct general obligation debt but it is assigned top issuer ratings from Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's.

The incoming governor, Terry Branstad, who defeated incumbent Gov. Chet Culver last month, and the new Legislature take office next month.

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