CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state started out the new fiscal year with more than $17 million less in tax collections that it had anticipated. The numbers were released Monday.

State Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said the state continues to struggle with lower collections from coal severance tax and personal income tax collections.

“We’re not entirely surprised. I think we’re optimistic that things in the long-term will be better but we are continuing to see things in the short-term with specific challenges,” Kiss said. “We’re not seeing the turn around that we were hoping to see.”

It’s a numbers game for the state right now while revenues for coal severance are down, tax monies for natural gas are up.

“The amount of growth we need to see in oil and gas and the revenue that it brings with it needs to be significantly higher than the loss we’ve seen in coal,” Kiss said. “The trend there is hopeful but we still have quite a ways to go.”

Personal income tax collections finished $11.2 million below estimates for July while withholding tax revenues also missed the mark. Kiss said, even though it’s not linked to general revenue, lottery proceeds continue to be cut by competition from other states. He said the state is still waiting for that to bottom out. The state has also been hurt by a significant reduction in exported goods from a high of $7.5 billion in 2012 to $4 billion this past fiscal year.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin decided to keep a state government hiring freeze in effect. Kiss said the freeze saved the state $33 million last fiscal year and continues to give the current budget the flexibility it needs. He’s hopeful the economy will turn around before the state is forced to make other budget moves.

“I think it’s too early to make that call yet. It’s certainly not time to hit any kind of panic button,” he said.

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  • Jeff.A.A

    The State seems to have plenty of cash to support those race tracks (or have they mutated into casinos). But not enough to run the beautiful Hawks Nest golf course on historic Gauley Mountain. What a shame it is to see that course fall into disrepair.

  • FungoJoe

    Kiss said, “We’re not seeing the turn around that we were hoping to see.”
    Wow. How astute. Mr. Kiss, maybe the policies of your president, Barack Hussein Obama, have something to do with this mess.

  • Teach

    Hey Karl! LOL! That's funny what do u think Nat can do! Turn those lights off in D.C. ! Do it for real not for show then we would see who's hollering for COAL! We r tired of them playing up to votes and then as soon as they r in office they'll stab u in the back! Seems like we need to get rid of Kiss too. He doesn't seem too sympathetic for the loss of coal! We need to clean out all of Congress across this country. When they r all responsible for a government shut down it's pathetic!

  • george

    Get rid of the Democratic controlled WV Government---Im tired of our State ranking 49th and 50th in every good poll taken-- .....I see the yellow bellies didn't even follow up on our" no respect for human life" Governor's veto on the fetal pain bill....They don't even care about the rights of the unborn child could they care about any of us......instead the Governor relies on his apparently non educated team of lawyers who apparently have little knowledge of biology 101... I am glad that Jim Justice is at least creating a positive image for the State....

    • The bookman

      Be careful the bar you set for a Republican majority. The headwinds we face as WVians are significant, and although I support a change in leadership direction, you don't raise a sinking ship with one pail. It will take an enormous effort, and some pain, from all of us.

  • Gary a Karstens

    Government isn't free. Need revenues??? It is time to tax those that can afford it. The rich and middle class in WV can afford it. Look at what a thinker like Danny Jones is doing in Charleston. He is raising revenues. Why? Because Danny Jones is a progressive Republican working hard for the common man and not for the tea party hacks. Taxes raised, user fees, tighter restriction on guns, etc. His blueprint is there.

    • Jephre

      The "rich and middle class" are rapidly disappearing, and certainly cannot bear the ever-increasing financial burden of operating government alone. How about starting by cutting big portions of bloated state, federal, and local governments? How about eliminating a few pork-barrel programs, and reducing staff sizes in DOH, DOT, HHR, etc.? How about living within our means, like the lower and middle classes of working people are expected to do? It's always such a simple solution to just increase taxes - well, most folks can't stand another dime of tax increase, so it's time to start reducing on the other end.

    • Gary can't be for real

      What is increasing in Charleston other than taxes and user fees? Detroit thug transfers and heroin sales. Oh and gun crimes...thanks to stiffer restrictions on the law abiding. Brilliant cannot be for real.

    • Aaron

      Charleston's population is declining and businesses are leaving at a yeeshish rate. Yes, $3 Danny has the blueprint.

  • Karl

    Don't worry WV. Help is on the way. Natalie's gonna save us! She's a fighter!

    • Interesting123


      • Dumb Liberals

        If not, one big a** whopping lie!!!!! Of course so is her denial of supporting the m0r0n.

  • any major dude

    The state workers hiring freeze is a reflection of a nation wide trend of decreasing public sector jobs, and increasing private sector hiring, as part-time and benefitless as they may be (and are).