With tax collections falling 13.7% in November, Arizona lawmakers face a tougher challenge balancing a budget after severe cuts in 2008.

Joint Legislative Budget Committee analysts said plummeting consumer confidence fueled a 13.3% drop in sales tax revenue, the 11th straight month of year-over-year reductions. At the same time, individual income tax collections, the other major revenue source for the state, dropped by 14.8% in November as employment fell by 83,100 jobs from a year earlier.

Legislators will try to fix the current budget and approve a balanced budget for the fiscal year when they meet in Phoenix on Jan. 12.

The previous shortfall projection was made nearly two months ago and amounted to $1.2 billion out of the current $9.9 billion budget. The November revenue figures put the actual shortfall through the first five months of the fiscal year at $573.7 million, approaching half of the projected total for the entire year.

The legislative budget analysts plan to update the shortfall projection after a mid-January meeting of an advisory panel of government and private economists.

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