State’s chief economist, Dr. Arun Raha, to step down

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CONTACT: John Handy, Communications Director | 360-786-5758

State’s chief economist, Dr. Arun Raha, to step down

‘I’ve been very happy with Dr. Raha’s work and we will miss his insight tremendously,’ says council chair Rep. Ed Orcutt

Dr. Arun Raha, the Chief Economist and Executive Director of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, announced his resignation from the council today in a letter to council chair, Rep. Ed Orcutt.

Raha, who was appointed to the council in 2008, is leaving to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

In his resignation letter, Dr. Raha thanked current and past council members for their “unwavering support” and acknowledged the council staff for their excellent assistance over the years.

“Over the last three plus years, it has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of Washington,” Dr. Raha wrote in his resignation letter.  “It has been a most wonderful experience as I have travelled around the state meeting with local officials, businesses, citizens and taxpayers.  Of course, I was out raising their spirits and encouraging them to hang in there because the Great Recession too shall pass.  But I got much more from them than I expected – the warmth and the affection with which they received me was truly touching.  With fine people like that, I continue to be bullish about the state economy’s future.”

Orcutt, R-Kalama, said he had mixed emotions concerning Dr. Raha’s departure.

“I’ve been very happy with Dr. Raha’s work and we will miss his insight tremendously,” Orcutt said.  “He was placed in the very unique and often unenviable position of delivering revenue forecasts that continued to trend into negative territory.  He’s worked hard at giving the council members accurate revenue collections and forecasts.  He’s going to be difficult to replace.  However, I know he’s anxious to return to the private sector and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Dr. Raha oversaw the state’s economic trends during a nearly-unprecedented time in state history as the state and national economies went into deep recessions.  He became somewhat infamous among legislative staff and reporters for his quirky humor as he delivered what was often bad economic news.  Whether reflecting on the Seattle Mariners or gently admonishing the public for putting too much money into savings account instead of buying new cars, Dr. Raha consistently tried to include a measure of humanity and humility into the often tedious world of graphs, charts, numbers and equations.

The council will begin an immediate search for Dr. Raha’s replacement.  In the meantime, Steve Lerch, who served as the interim chief economist before Raha’s appointment, has agreed to once again step into that role until a new executive director is found.

“Steve did an excellent job in his previous stint as the interim chief economist and we’re lucky to have someone with the experience and willingness to step right in for a smooth transition,” Orcutt said.  “It’s nice to know the council will have the time to do a thorough search and find the best person for the job.  Finding a permanent replacement quickly will be of the utmost importance, but with Steve at the helm, the council won’t feel unnecessarily rushed while making the decision.”

The next revenue forecast is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 16.

For more information, contact Brendon Wold, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7698


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