Archive for Saturday, August 31, 2002

State’s revenue picture darkens

August tax collections come in $19.1 million below projections

August 31, 2002


— State government's budget hole continues to deepen, officials said Friday.

State tax collections for August fell $19.1 million below previous projections, according to Gov. Bill Graves' Budget Director Duane Goossen.

That brings the revenue gap to $50 million for the first two months of the fiscal year, which started July 1.

Revenue collections are about 9 percent lower than what lawmakers thought they would be at this point when they passed a spending bill earlier this year.

"We haven't bottomed out yet on state revenues," Goossen said. "I don't know when that comes."

The biggest dips in personal and corporate income taxes were somewhat expected because of the sluggish stock market, Goossen said.

But August also showed a drop in sales tax revenues, which Goossen described as "worrisome."

The continued revenue decline comes two weeks after Graves cut the budget by $41 million because budget reserves were drying up. And those cuts followed a $300 million tax increase to shore up the ailing budget.

Graves said he didn't expect to make additional budget cuts before he leaves office in January.

But Graves said he and legislative leaders were discussing whether to move up the next round of official state revenue estimates from November to October so the next governor and Legislature would have a better and earlier view of the magnitude of the budget problem.

State budget experts meet twice a year to make revenue projections that are used by the Legislature when putting together a budget.

Graves, a Republican, has criticized the two major candidates for governor Republican Tim Shallenburger and Democrat Kathleen Sebelius for being vague about how they would tackle the state's budgetary problems.

But Friday he toned down his rhetoric, saying he believed the two candidates understand the budget problems but are having trouble commenting on them because much of the forecasting is speculative at this point.

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