Kentucky monthly budget report shows mixed figures

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — In a sign of a still struggling economy, the state on Thursday reported lackluster growth for December in sales tax receipts and a substantial decline in corporate income tax collections.

The monthly report, however, also showed some larger gains. General Fund revenue rose 4.9 percent, and Road Fund collections were up 6.2 percent.

Total General Fund revenue for the month was nearly $946 million, buoyed largely by 12.1 percent growth in property tax collections and a 10.1 percent jump in individual income tax receipts, according to the monthly report.

Not all the numbers were as rosy. "Sales and use tax receipts, which typically act as a barometer of the underlying economic conditions, continue to perform poorly, having increased only one-tenth of a percent through the first half of the fiscal year," state Budget Director Mary Lassiter said.

Sales tax collections rose only 1.7 percent in December, short of the growth Lassiter had hoped for. Corporate income tax revenue fell by 11.6 percent. Coal severance tax receipts were down 18.7 percent. And collections from the state's cigarette tax were flat.

Lassiter said revenue levels show that the General Fund "has yet to establish a consistent pattern of growth following the recession." Even so, she said the General Fund would need to grow only 1 percent during the remaining six months of the fiscal year to meet budget projections.

An offer of tax amnesty in Kentucky also helped push up General Fund revenue in December. Some 16,000 delinquent taxpayers had accepted the amnesty offer by its Nov. 30 expiration.

The state had a goal of collecting some $55 million through the offer that allowed delinquent taxpayers to settle up without facing prosecution. A similar offer a decade ago netted $40 million.

Road Fund receipts reached $116.2 million in December even though its primary sources of revenue have been erratic in recent months. Motor fuels tax collections, the single largest revenue producer for the Road Fund, grew by 7.2 percent in December, generating $69.4 million.

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