By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Revenue collections for the month of December were $20.98 million, or 5.8 percent, above the estimate.
For the fiscal year, which is now halfway complete, collections were $80.75 million, or 3.8 percent, above the estimate.
The revenue estimate represents the amount of tax revenue legislators used during the 2012 session to construct a budget to fund state agencies, ranging from education to public safety to Medicaid.
The December report comes days before the Legislature begins the 2013 session where one of its primary tasks will be to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Theoretically, any revenue above the estimate will be available for the Legislature to spend in the upcoming budget year.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was cautious despite what appeared to be a strong December for revenue collections.
“As revenues for the year show, the Mississippi economy continues to grow slowly,” Reeves said. “December revenue collections validate the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s decision to save several hundreds of millions of dollars and to remain conservative in our budget recommendation for the next year. We will continue to monitor tax collections.”
Revenue collections for December were $14.79 million above the amount collected in December 2011 and $61.79 million more than the amount collected during the same six-month period one year ago.
This year’s collections include $35 million from the settlement of lawsuits by Attorney General Jim Hood that boosts the amount above the official estimate.
Income tax collections continue to be strong. For the year, individual income tax collections were $55 million above the estimate and for December they were $18.5 million above the estimate.
Tax collections on the sale of retail items – viewed by many as a more accurate indicator of the state’s economic health – grew at a more modest clip. For the month of December, sales tax collections were $1.6 million, or 1.05 percent, above the estimate while for the year sales tax collections were only $3.97 million, or less than one-half percent, above the estimate.
Gambling taxes were 7.25 percent or $5.26 million below the estimate for the year and $1.3 million or 11.7 percent below the estimate for December.