The November state revenue report shows the Arkansas tax take up over last year ahead of a forecast revised in mid-November to reflect improvement.
For the first five months of the year, gross revenue of $2.456 billion was up, $67.4 million, or 2.8 percent over the amount raised in the same period last year. The figure is .05 percent above the recently revised forecast.
Net revenues — the amount left after mandatory off-the-top payments to constitutional offices and other purposes — were $2.1 billion, or 3.6 percent more than last year, with the net topping the forecast by $24.8 million, or 1.2 percent. That’s the figure that can eventually grow into a state surplus.
Seeming better news in the monthly totals for November is tempered by accounting. Gross collections of $464.6 million were $34.4 million, or 8 percent, higher than November 2013 and 2.8 percent above the higher forecast. There was a sharp increase in income tax collections. Sales taxes were also up by 3 percent. A spokesman said, however, that the November number was influenced by a payroll timing issue that skewed the income tax collection. The flip side will occur in December, with collections less than expected.
Legislators will have some surplus to work with, but not a huge amount if the same pattern continues. A new prison? Replacement for lost federal dollars if the Obamacare Private Option isn’t reauthorized? More money for teacher insurance? A tax cut? So many desires. A finite amount of money.