November a mixed bag for state revenue

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – While state tax collections for November were $4.9 million below the estimate, total collections from all revenue sources during the time frame were $561,161 above the estimate.
For November, the state collected $330.8 million, or 0.17 percent, above the estimate for the state general fund, which goes to support public education, Medicaid and other state services. For the year, total collections, are $46.6 million or 2.7 percent, above the estimate.
The estimate is important because it represents the amount of money the Legislature appropriated during the 2011 session. If collections fall below the estimate, then cuts must be made or other sources of revenue tapped.
The bulk of state general fund revenue is garnered through various taxes, such as on income, retail items, insurance premiums and casino gambling. Those tax collections were $4.9 million, or 1.5 percent, below the estimate for November.
But when the category known as “other than” tax collections is factored in, the total collections for the month are slightly above the estimate. That category includes the state’s investment earnings, fees on traffic citations and fees levied by some state agencies to perform specific services.
Based on the tax collections alone, Gov. Haley Barbour said, “We need to be prudent in spending state revenues and reserves until economic conditions improve, especially when we will have $200 million less in federal funds next year.”
Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said the state’s monthly tax collections, while important and an economic indicator, must be looked at over an extended period of time to see a true picture. For instance, in October, collections were $20 million, or 5 percent, above the estimate, primarily because income tax collections were a substantial 11 percent above the estimate.
For November, income tax collections were 7 percent below the estimate. A truer picture might be seen by combing income tax collections for October and November, Brown said.
For the year to date, collections are $62.8 million, or 3.7 percent, above what was collected during the same period a year ago.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com