A continuing trend: February state budget revenues come in below estimate

A continuing trend: February state budget revenues come in below estimate

Author: Jason Gottesman/Thursday, March 2, 2017/Categories: News and Views

Revenue figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Wednesday evening continue to cast a pessimistic light on those hoping General Fund revenues will perk up to help balance the current and coming years’ state budgets.


As has been the case in past months, the revenue numbers for February once again came in below estimate, this time falling $32.9 million, or 1.7 percent, below estimate.


For the fiscal-year-to-date, General Fund revenues are ringing in at $18 billion, or $449.7 million (2.4 percent), below estimate.


As in past months, revenue has come in under estimate in almost every revenue category, this time with the exception of the sales tax revenue, which came in at $11.8 million above estimate yet still lags behind year-to-date estimates by almost two full percentage points.


For the fiscal-year-to-date realty transfer tax and corporate income tax revenues have the largest gap from anticipated amounts, while the personal income tax, inheritance tax, and other tax sources remain at 3.7 percent below estimate or lower.


While non-tax revenue sources continue to be well above estimate (33.5 percent), Motor License Fund revenues—which partially fund the Pennsylvania State Police and transportation projects—were also below estimate.


The continued lag of incoming revenues has had budget planners scrambling as they face a deficit of $650 million for the current budget year, and a ballooning deficit of $3 billion for the coming year.


At an appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon on Monday, Budget Secretary Randy Albright said while those who agreed to the budget and revenue plan for the current fiscal year knew something needed to be done in the way of revenues for FY 2017-2018 in order to try and make ends meet, nobody was counting on this large a lag in revenues for the current fiscal year.


Currently, Gov. Tom Wolf’s $32.3 billion budget proposal is being examined by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in their annual slate of budget hearings.


Those hearings conclude next week with just three and a half months remaining before the beginning of the new fiscal year.