Good news: State tax collections are up
July state revenues were up 4.7 percent for the month, and it is hard to portray this as anything but good news. Unless there is an unknown amount of income tax refunds laying in wait, this is a solid month of growth at $1.147 billion in revenues, or about the 2006 level.
Individual income taxes came in at $540.6 million or up 3.6 percent. Sales taxes in total were up 3.0 percent or $818.5 million. Local sales tax distribution was off by -5.1 percent but state net sales taxes were up 2.4 percent or a total of $454.9 million for the month.
Motor fuel taxes were encouraging as well. Total collections were up $16.1 million or 24.8 percent with fuel sales taxes increasing $12.6 million or 47.2 percent and excise taxes up 9.2 percent or $3.5 million.
Corporate income taxes had a good month, up $5.5 million or 40.2 percent but tobacco tax collections were off $3.2 million or -26.0 percent. Alcohol tax collections were down slightly at -1.0 percent.
So, Fiscal Year 2011 is off to a good start. It is our hope that the state has turned a corner ever so slightly as the unemployment rate also improved slightly this past month.
Georgia’s $17.8 billion budget only needs another $16.8 billion in the next 11 months to make budget.
Lottery revenues and the HOPE scholarship:
Much has been written in the press recently concerning the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship, and legislative committees are beginning to consider the fact that lottery funding is essentially flat and the costs of lottery-funded programs including the HOPE scholarshipare growing.
While there is a robust reserve approaching $1 billion, the deficit will increase dramatically over the next few years, according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission.
Over the next weeks, this column will examine these issues as well, considering the operation of the lottery and the entire range of programs funded by the lottery.
It is important, though, to understand the entirety of the lottery expenditures before considering reducing HOPE or making any changes.
The HOPE Scholarship only accounts for half of the lottery expenditures. The legislature must evaluate all lottery funded programs the way we are evaluating the HOPE Scholarship.
Thank you for your interest. Please contact me if I may be of assistance at 404-463-1366 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. Ronnie Chance
[Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) represents Senate District 16, which includes parts of Fayette, Monroe and Spalding counties and all of Lamar and Pike counties.]