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Tax collections subdued in first half of state budget year

By Staff
From staff and wire reports
Jan. 3, 2002
Lagging tax collections do not come as a surprise to some members of the local legislative delegation.
Mississippi tax collections fell $113.4 million behind expectations from July 1 to Dec. 31, the first half of fiscal 2002. That's nearly 6.5 percent below an estimate set last spring.
Numbers for the first six months of the budget year were released by the state Tax Commission on Wednesday, less than a week before lawmakers convene a three-month legislative session that's expected to be dominated by setting a tight budget for next fiscal year.
There are encouraging signs. House Appropriations Chairman Charlie Capps, D-Cleveland, said despite the shortfall in collections, he sees reason for optimism.
He pointed to sales tax collections, which were $30.8 million, or 4.23 percent, behind expectations for the first half of the year. In December, sales tax collections were $685,724, or less than 1 percent, behind expectations.
December numbers represent sales made in November, before the heart of the Christmas shopping season.
I'm certainly encouraged by that,'' Capps said. That's the first time we've met our sales tax (projection) in a while.''
Corporate tax collections had the poorest performance in the first half of fiscal 2002, falling $35.1 million, or 30.25 percent, below expectations.
Gaming fees and taxes lagged $10.3 million, or 11.38 percent, behind where experts thought they'd be.
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove warned lawmakers last spring that they were planning to spend too much in fiscal 2002. Slow tax collections forced him in mid-November to trim $55 million from the $3.58 billion general fund.
Musgrove has said lawmakers are on track again to overspend, but he has not submitted his spending ideas for fiscal 2003.