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Early look: Revenues on target. Budget shortfall still big.

This could change but, it looks like the roundtable of state economists meeting today won't be changing their economic forecasts too much. Good news for the panel because it means they're spot on with their December estimate. Bad news for the folks who were hoping the budget would get more cash.

The most recent month-to-month revenue collections, for January, showed Florida took in $52 million more than projected for the month and $70 million over estimate for the year to date.

But, in a replay of last December's estimate, the Legislature's Office of Economic & Demographic Research and Department of Revenue want to shave a little money off the estimate for next fiscal year. But Gov. Charlie Crist's office is optimistic, like its boss. Where EDR and DOR want to reduce the estimate by $65.9m and $2.2m, respectively, Crist's guys see a windfall of $257.3m.

It's most likely the forecasters will increase the revenue projection by no more than a hundred or so million dollars -- enough to suggest slight improvement in the state's precarious fiscal condition, but not enough to make any substantive difference in a budget shortfall now estimated at $3.2 billion.

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