Arkansas Sees Slight Increase in Revenues in November

ANDREW DeMILLO | Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The state finance department said Tuesday that Arkansas' revenues in November were slightly ahead of last year's figures and its expectations, numbers that the state's fiscal chief said show Arkansas can't afford more tax cuts next year.

The Department of Finance and Administration said the state's net available revenues last month totaled $350.6 million. That's $7.9 million above last year and $4.6 million above forecast. The state's revenues for the fiscal year that began July 1 total $1.9 billion, which is $53 million above last year and $4.6 million above forecast.

The department in November revised its forecast for the year upward by $99.5 million.

Finance and Administration Director Richard Weiss said the numbers show the state is on track with the forecast, and offer little hope for lawmakers who hoped to avoid cuts to the state's Medicaid program or pass new tax cuts next year.

Gov. Mike Beebe has proposed cutting Arkansas' grocery tax, but only if the state's desegregation payments to three school districts or bond obligations decline by $35 million over a six month period. Republicans, who won control of the Legislature in the November election, have said they want to push for reductions in the income tax and other cuts next year.

"It shows we're pretty close right on forecast," Weiss told reporters. "The forecast as we have it right now still anticipates having to make some big reductions in Medicaid or find some other way to finance it, which would seem to forgo any room for tax cuts from our perspective."

The revenues were boosted primarily by an increase in individual income tax collections, which totaled $192.5 million. That's $8.8 million above last year and $4.9 million above forecast. Sales tax collections totaled $173.2 million, which was $6.3 million above last year but $600,000 below forecast.

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