State revenue collections still positive

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – State revenue collections, used to fund everything from public schools to state parks, got off to a good start for the first month of the new fiscal year.
Revenue collections for the month of July, the first of the 2013 fiscal year, were $27.1 million, or 11.2 percent, above the estimate.
But in reality, according to a revenue report produced by the staff of the Legislative Budget Committee, because of an accounting miscue, the amount of revenue above the estimate was overstated by $17.6 million.
Apparently, because of accounting glitches, some unnamed retailers reimbursed to the state $17.6 million too much in sales tax collections. In the coming months, those funds will be reimbursed to the retailers, negatively impacting revenue collections for those months.
Still, revenue continues to exceed the official estimate. That is key because the Legislature uses the official estimate to develop a state budget and, if collections fall below that projection, cuts might have to be made to various state agencies.
The state revenue collections come from a litany of sources, including a sales tax on retail items, a tax on income, a tax on casino gambling and a tax on items like cigarettes.
For the month of July, including the $17.6 million overage, the state collected $241.5 million in revenue – up $25.1 million, or 10.3 percent, above what was collected in July 2011.
After an unprecedented slowdown in tax collections caused by the recession that started in 2008, the state has had much better revenue collections in recent months. For the month of June, the last of the past fiscal year, the state collected $58.9 million above the estimate.
During the last fiscal year, the state collected $248 million more than the official estimate. Part of that money will be available for the 2013 Legislature to appropriate. During the past year, the state collected $4.85 billion – 5.9 percent more than the previous year.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com