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Archive for Saturday, March 2, 2002

State revenue above estimates for month

March 2, 2002

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— Legislators finally received some good news about the state budget with better-than-expected February revenue collections, but some members are skeptical it means much.

The state collected $212.4 million in taxes in February, about $9.8 million more than had been predicted, according to preliminary Department of Revenue figures.

But even with the February numbers, the state has taken in $82.9 million less than expected so far in fiscal 2002, which began last July 1.

The state has now received about $2.52 billion out of the $4.4 billion it expects to collect before the fiscal year ends June 30.

Still, the February figures were welcomed by legislators trying to close a projected $426 million gap between expected revenue and required spending in fiscal 2003.

"It gave me some hope that the bottom won't drop out," House Speaker Kent Glasscock, R-Manhattan, said at a news conference Friday.

An updated revenue forecast, due out Friday, could show a budget gap as large as $600 million despite the February revenue figures, legislators fear.

"The hemorrhaging of the state budget may have stopped, but it's still lying in a pool of its own blood," said Rep. Rocky Nichols of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, remained pessimistic about the budget.

"I still think we'll have a very sobering estimate on March 8," he said.

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