CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s revenue collections were higher in May than estimates, and according to Gov. Jim Justice’s office, the state is on track to have a budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year in June.
Tax revenue in May was $328.9 million, $20.2 million above estimates. According to the governor’s office, year-to-date collections are around $3.83 billion, more than $124 million higher than levels last year. The current fiscal year ends June 30.
Justice said at a press conference Wednesday the state’s fiscal health has turned around since he took office in January 2017.
“I walked in here believing in the people of West Virginia and knowing in my heart how good we really are,” he said. “I can tell you as you write, as you talk as people in our communities, as you believe in ourselves, it has a profound influence on us. We do not need to try to push ourselves down.”
Personal income tax collections had the biggest gap between collection and estimation at $8.5 million. Corporation net income collections exceeded estimates by $3.8 million and severance tax collections were more than $1.8 million higher.
Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said employment growth is also helping the state, in which the rate has been equal to or above one percent since December.
“As a result of that, the personal income taxes have really been the historic performer in the revenue area. We’re running about $60 million year-to-date ahead of estimate, and part of that is withholding tax of wage and salary incomes,” he said.
According to Muchow, 9,400 people have entered the labor force since April 2017.
Justice said things are getting better in West Virginia.
“We are West Virginia and we are on our way,” he said. “We’re going to be able to help our people that are struggling and there’s going to be hope and the drugs are going to go the other way. And there’s going to be goodness all over the place within West Virginia.”
Collections for the state road fund were $71.8 million in May, $9.9 million below the estimate and 3.7 percent below last year’s numbers. The state attributed the issue to a shift in fuel excise tax collections in late April.