Nancy Reardon of the Patriot Ledger reports that the outlook for next year’s state budget is a bit rosier than state leaders expected, but the chances of a full recovery anytime soon are dim.

Some tax collection figures and lottery revenues will come in higher than projected in the current fiscal year that ends in June. But the state’s heavy reliance on one-time money such as federal stimulus funding could slow any chances of a balanced budget for years to come, according to state officials and outside experts who spoke at a legislative hearing on Wednesday.

The 2011 deficit is still projected at $3 billion and unemployment levels are expected to peak next year, but aren’t expected to reflect pre-recession levels any time soon.

In the short-term, the glimmer of hope from any revenue rebound won’t prevent further budget cuts, said Jay Gonzales, the state’s secretary of administration and finance.

The good news came in separate testimony from Department of Revenue Commissioner Navjeet Bal and Treasurer Tim Cahill.

Crediting this past summer’s 25 percent increase in the sales tax, Bal said sales tax receipts have gone up 9.2 percent over the first five months of the fiscal year. In 2011, overall tax revenues should be 3.9 percent higher than this year.

Cahill – a Quincy resident who’s also running for governor as an independent – told the panel that as of Nov. 30, the state’s pension fund has seen a positive return for the first time since before the recession. It’s climbing back up from its worst year yet in 2008, Cahill said.

“We’re not going to go broke from pension liability problems,” he said.

Lottery sales – which fund the state’s local aid payments to cities and towns – will come in about $35 million higher than initially projected, Cahill said.

“It’s still not more than past years, but it’s better,” he said.

Still, experts warned, revenue won’t solve the state’s problems on its own.

Read More at: Patriot Ledger