State revenue collections dip below forecast for November

LITTLE ROCK — State revenues fell slightly below projections in November, a dip caused by corporate income taxes that did not meet expectations, the state fiscal office reported Tuesday.

The state’s net available general revenue last month totaled $349.7 million, about $800,000, or 2 percent, below last year, and 2.3 percent below the monthly forecast.

The state’s revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is $29.4 million above forecast, according to the report.

Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters he was “a little disappointed” with the dip in revenues.

“It’s still within the realm, but we cut the forecast just slightly to accommodate, to be safe and conservative and cautious,” Beebe said.

State Department of Finance and Administration Director Richard Weiss said Monday that the state revenue forecast for the rest of the current fiscal year was being downgraded because of an expected decline in tax collections between now and June 30.

Weiss said net available revenue for the remainder of the fiscal year are expected to reach $4.9 billion, about $83.2 million, or 1.7 percent, below fiscal year 2013.

A 2 percent increase in revenue is projected in fiscal year 2014-15 as the overall economy continues to improve, Weiss said.

Gross collections in corporate income tax, described in the report as “a volatile component of general revenue,” were $4.2 million below the monthly forecast and 41.6 percent percent below last year, according to the report. Corporate refunds were $2.6 million above the monthly forecast and 36.6 percent above a year ago.

The report said other major categories of general revenue also were below forecast by lesser amounts, including individual income, $3.6 million or 1.8 percent below forecast, and sales and use tax, $800,000 or 0.5 percent below forecast.

In response to a question, Beebe said he was not sure why corporate income tax collections were below forecast for November.

“I don’t have a specific explanation. I can tell you what some of the speculation is, that it was related to the shutdown,” he said. “You had people that weren’t making money. They may make up for it if they were paid for the time off later, but it runs behind time, so we’ll see.”

The drop in monthly corporate income tax collections is not necessarily indicative of a trend, Beebe said.

“Corporate’s always so volatile that you can’t go by corporate except on an annual basis,” he said. “We never look at a month’s corporate one way or the other as being indicative.”