Georgia reports drop in December collections

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Just days before leaving office, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that state revenue collections were down for a second month in a row.

The state collected $2.16 billion in December, a decrease of 4.5% compared to December 2017.

Year-to-date, Georgia’s net tax revenues have totaled nearly $11.82 billion, for an increase of 4.6%.

The December “decrease in revenue is primarily due to a comparison with the unparalleled December 2017 increase of estimated income tax payments, which were filed as an anticipated incentive for individual income taxpayers due to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” said Deal, who was term limited from seeking re-election last year. His last day in office is Monday.

Georgia’s individual income tax collections for December totaled $1.14 billion, for a decrease of 9.3% compared to the same month in 2017. Corporate income tax collections decreased 3.1%.

Bright spots in state revenues during the last month of 2018 included gross sales and use tax collections, which were up 9.9%, and motor fuel tax collections, which increased nearly $1 million or 0.7% compared to December 2017.

Tax revenue collections were also down in November, though only by 0.7%. The state ended the calendar year reporting year-over-year growth in all but three months.

Deal, 76, is an attorney who’s been in office since January 2011. The Republican leaves Georgia in good financial shape with $2.5 billion in reserves bolstering the state’s gilt-edged ratings.

During his eight years in office, Deal has consistently approved annual budgets with state general obligation bonds financing capital needs.

On Wednesday, the Georgia Board of Regents voted to appoint Deal as a professor effective March 1. He will lecture at various schools in the University System of Georgia. Board of Regents spokeswoman Jen Ryan said Deal will work in the classroom to help “educate the next generation of leaders,” like other governors and elected officials before him.

“Gov. Nathan Deal’s decades of public service, leadership and policy experience at the state and national levels have shaped legislation, initiatives and programs in a vast array of areas, including health care, criminal justice reform, education and economic development,” said Ryan, who used to work in Gov. Deal’s office.

“Deal embodies the Board of Regents’ vision for a Regents professor and we look forward his continued contributions to students, the University System of Georgia and our state in this new role,” she said.

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, who won a close runoff against Democrat Stacey Abrams, takes the oath of office at 2 p.m. on Monday.

Last year, Secretary of State Kemp ran all statewide elections. Kemp resigned the position on Nov. 8.

Abrams has said she is still considering whether to file a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election system, which has used less-secure touchscreens since 2002. The system doesn’t produce paper ballots showing how each individual voted.

During the General Assembly’s annual session, which starts Monday, lawmakers are expected to consider appropriating funds to purchase new voting machines.

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State tax revenues State budgets Nathan Deal Brian Kemp State of Georgia Georgia