Miss. revenue falls short of goal in September

JACKSON — Mississippi’s tax collections fell short of expectations in September after beating them in July and August.

Gov. Haley Barbour and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, both Republicans, said the fluctuation shows that leaders should be cautious as they start planning state spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

“This proves we continue to face extreme budget challenges ahead,” Bryant said in a news release.

Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said Thursday that September collections were $5.2 million short of projections for the month. That’s a shortfall of 1.26 percent.

However, Waterbury said collections were still above expectations by $13.9 million, or 1.47 percent, for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011, which began July 1.

September collections were $241,000 ahead of those for the same month last year.

And, tax collections for the entire first quarter were $39 million ahead of the first quarter last year, a jump of 4.25 percent.

Legislators held hearings last week to start planning for fiscal 2012, which begins next July 1. State agencies have requested about $1.3 billion in new spending — a level that Bryant and other top lawmakers are calling unrealistic.

“We must remember the global economy is not strong,” Barbour said Thursday in a news release. “Spending must be restrained in FY 2012 due to the loss of hundreds of millions of federal stimulus dollars and the fragile economic recovery.”

Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press