State ends year with a surplus

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – The state ended the fiscal year Thursday with an estimated $62 million more in revenue than was budgeted.
The surplus will bode well for the 2012 Legislature when it meets in January to develop a new state budget.
“While this is welcome news, we will continue to face great budget challenges in the new fiscal year” which starts today, said Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, whose office announced the surplus Thursday afternoon.
According to Bryant’s office, for the month of June, the state collected $581 million in revenue, or 4.2 percent, above the projection. For the entire fiscal year, the state collected 2.2 percent more revenue than it did the previous year – or $4.6 billion.
The bulk of the state’s revenue comes from taxes on retail items and income. It also collects casino taxes, taxes on insurance premiums and various other sources of money.
In recent years, the Legislature and Gov. Haley Barbour have had to make budget cuts because of an unprecedented drop in state tax collections. The 2.2 percent growth in tax collections for the recently completed year comes after two years where the state collected less revenue than it did the previous year for the first time in recent memory.
Barbour withheld comment on the projected surplus, saying he would wait until the final numbers are calculated in the coming days.
But it is clear the state will end the year with a surplus. Whatever the size of the surplus, it can be used next session, but both Bryant, a Republican, and House Education Chair Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, a key appropriator for the chamber, said the upcoming session will be difficult because of the loss of federal stimulus funds.
“Obviously, I am pleased,” Brown said. “But we are not out of the woods yet. The economy is still slow, but it is growing. But we still have big issues we will have to deal with next year.”
Bryant, who is in a midst of a campaign for governor, said: “State agencies must still be prudent in their spending as we recover from these tough economic times.”


Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@journalinc.com.