By Johnny Jackson
State revenues are down by $1.6 billion so far this fiscal year, according to state officials, and are off by 14 percent for the month of May.
Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Friday net revenue collections for May totaled $1.2 billion, some $212 million less than was collected in May 2008.
So far, for fiscal year 2009, which ends this month, the state has collected $14.2 billion. In the first 11 months of FY08, the state collected roughly $15.8 billion, 10 percent more than has been collected in FY09.
"I think today's numbers further indicate we are in some economic uncertainty still," said Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley. "The spending cuts the governor ordered, though they are a challenge, are still necessary given our revenue picture."
The state Department of Revenue has seen a decline in collections from individual income taxes for the year as well, said Charles Willey, a department spokesman.
The department has collected $7 billion in individual income taxes over an 11-month period in FY09, compared to $8 billion over the same period in FY08. For May, the state reported a 21-percent drop ($179 million) in individual income tax revenue, compared to May 2008.
Willey said the decline may, in part, be the result of fewer state residents working and earning an income in May, in conjunction with an increased number and amount of refunds to individuals from the state.
According to state reports, net individual refunds for income taxes are up nearly 4 percent ($71 million) for FY09, which is currently backlogged 491,000 refunds that will be part of future month-end totals.
State reports also indicate individual income tax payments fell some 29 percent this year, from last, leaving the state with $353 million less in revenue.
The loss of revenue, according to Brantley, continues to affect state agencies whose budgets continue to be slashed in order to balance the state's budget.
The state Department of Revenue, for instance, reported its processing center had a total of 248 full-time employees working during the month of May, 322 fewer full-time employees than were employed in May 2008, and a 57 percent reduction in the center's full-time workforce over the past year.
"We're going to keep managing the [$18.6 billion FY09 state] budget to be sure we have a balanced budget," Brantley said. "The bigger concern is what our economy is doing. There are some positive things that will be happening, but none of those are a short-term fix. Hopefully, we can keep our budget balanced until things turn around."