CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state did better in September with revenue collections.
According to information released Tuesday, collections exceeded estimates by approximately $20 million. The positive month puts collections at $29.8 million behind estimates for the first three months of the fiscal year. The first two months of collections almost put the state $50 million behind.
“More than anything, what this shows is that we always need to remember that we have to live within our means,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a news release. “Last year, we set an all-time record for the greatest one-year revenue growth in the history of our state. Our estimates kept getting revised upward and upward: four times.”
Overall collections for the month were at $477.3 million. Severance tax collections exceeded estimates by $411,000. Consumer sales tax collections exceeded estimates by $1.6 million while personal income tax topped its estimate by $244,000
State Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow predicted a positive September when he appeared before state lawmakers last week.
“In the month of September we will actually have revenue growth as opposed to revenue decline. So that will cut into the shortfall for the year-to-date. It will also cut into the negative growth rate for year-to-date but we are still forecasting a negative growth rate for this year,” Muchow said.
September is usually a key month because it’s when quarterly taxes are due. Collections last month also likely benefited from a carryover from August when the last day of the month fell on a Saturday.
The Justice administration put out an advisory last month telling state agencies to prepare for a possible four percent mid-year budget cut. Muchow told lawmakers the agencies are used to it.
“Probably about once every two years you end up with that possibility. Half of the time we run above estimate and half the time below estimate,” he said.
Gov. Justice urged caution in the statement his office released Tuesday.
“Naturally, we were bound for a dip eventually. We saw our numbers turn around for the good again here in September. But, if nothing else, our first quarter this year shows that we have to continue to err on the side of caution and remember we still have work to do and more people to help. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Justice said.