WASHINGTON -- Gov. L. Douglas Wilder will host a symposium on Virginia's economic and fiscal outlook in Richmond tomorrow in an effort to brace state and local officials for slower economic growth than the state enjoyed during the early 1980s.

"The governor wants to get everyone to look cooperatively at the new reality of the 1990s -- moderate job growth and moderate revenue gains," said gubernatorial spokesman Glenn K. Davidson. "I think this is basically to tell [state and local officials] that our forecasts show that the '90s are not going to be anything like the '80s."

The event, which will be held at

the Richmond Centre, will feature presentations by Lawrence Chimerine, senior economic adviser at Data Resources Inc. and a fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, and Alan Schick, public policy professor at the University of Maryland and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Virginia enjoyed relatively robust growth in the early 1980s. But in 1988 and 1989, the state had to eliminate a projected $400 million budget shortfall, which sprang largely from forecasting difficulties arising from changes in federal and state tax law.

Following that setback, the state faced a $2.2 billion revenue shortfall over the 1990-1991 budget period. That budget gap was attributed in large part of federal defense cutbacks, which had a disastrous effect on northern Virginia, where a host of small, independent defense contractors closed their doors.

Wilder and the Virginia General Assembly closed the gaps through program cuts without raising taxes.

Finances have been rosier recently, as the stated posted a general fund revenue surplus of $47.9 million for fiscal 1992, which ended June 30. But Wilder cautioned at the time that through the state ran a surplus, fiscal 1992 marked the third consecutive year that growth in general fund revenues had failed to keep pace with inflation.

In a statement announcing the economic symposium, Wilder said it has become "clear" to him that "local elected officials need more information on where Virginia is headed, economically and financially. The same applies to our state agency officials."

Wilder said the timing of the meeting will allow state and local officials to get a clearer picture of the state's short- and long-term fiscal outlook as they plan for the 1994-1996 budget period.

"It is my hope that the symposium will initiate an ongoing, productive dialogue among all levels of government as we address the challenges of the 1990s," Wilder said in the statement.

Davidson, Wilder's spokesman, said many state and local officials "are wondering whether an upturn in the economy is imminent. And it's our sense that things have not changed that much." Davidson said the governor is expecting about 600 officials to attend the gathering.

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