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Missouri's April revenue report wasn't all sunny

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 3, 2011 - The state of Missouri's April monthly report reflected the cliche: good news, bad news.

The good news? The state's general revenue collections continue to increase, and including April, are up 3.4 percent this fiscal year, compared to the same period a year ago. The state has collected $5.86 billion for this fiscal year (which runs through June 30) compared to $5.67 billion for the previous year.

The increased collection of $190 million allowed the state to pay back early the $150 million borrowed from the Budget Reserve Fund. That money has to be paid back by May 15.

The bad news? The year-to-date increase is slightly below the projected fiscal-year increase of 3.6 percent built into the current year's budget.

But more important, the current year-to-date percentage is down substantially from the 6.5 percent fiscal-year increase that the state had been experiencing through March. In fact, the April tally was down 11 percent from April 2010.

State budget director Linda Luebbering said in an interview today that three factors contributed to April's fiscal decline.

First and foremost, she said, the higher April 2010 tally was skewed by a one-time payment of $170 million in state taxes from an unidentified taxpayer. Subtract that payment, and April 2011's total actually would be about 9 percent higher than in April 2010.

The second factor: More tax refunds were sent out this April, compared to a year ago, because more taxpayers filed their 2010 returns closer to this year's April 18 deadline. Last year, the budget director said, many taxpayers filed their returns earlier -- meaning their refunds also were sent out earlier, and were figured into those earlier months (generally February and March).

Luebbering acknowledged that she is most concerned about the third reason for April's lower increase: Corporate tax revenue was down 8.1 percent, compared to April 2010.

"That's a number that we're going to watch," she said. (However, if last year's $170 million came from a corporate taxpayer, that could account for this April's decline.)

Another potential trouble spot, not mentioned by Luebbering, is the 5.1 percent drop in sales-tax collections in April, compared to a year ago.

In any case, the May financial numbers could be key in determining whether this fiscal year's collections come in on target, are higher than expected, or are lower than planned. The latter would require last-minute cuts so that the state ends its fiscal year with a balanced budget, as required by law.

This fiscal year, like the previous two, also is helped by some infusions of federal stimulus money.

Here's the full April general-revenue report:

Gross Collections By Tax Type

Individual income tax collections

Increased 2.8 percent for the year, from $4.61 billion last year to $4.74 billion this year.

Increased 0.7 percent for the month.

Sales and use tax collections

Increased 0.2 percent for the year from $1.46 billion last year to $1.47 billion this year.

Decreased 5.1 percent for the month.

Corporate income and corporate franchise tax collections

Increased 4.2 percent for the year, from $404.4 million last year to $421.5 million this year.

Decreased 8.1 percent for the month.

All other collections

Increased 16.9 percent for the year, from $362.3 million last year to $423.4 million this year.

Increased 20.9 percent for the month.


Increased 1.5 percent for the year, from $1.17 billion last year to $1.19 billion this year.

Increased 84.6 percent for the month.

Contact Beacon political reporter Jo Mannies.

Jo Mannies Beacon political reporter

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.