DALLAS — Kansas general fund revenue came in 10% higher than expected in August, which Gov. Mark Parkinson called “another clear sign” the state’s economy is beginning to recover.
Preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Department of Revenue showed a total of $414 million, up $37.9 million from the official estimate of $376 million. Revenue in the first two months of fiscal 2011 was $35 million more than the official forecast developed in April.
Total receipts in July were $398.6 million, 2.4% below the official estimate.
“As the year progresses we hope this success continues, but there may be ups and downs coming out of this recession and therefore we must remain fiscally conservative,” said Parkinson, a Democrat.
The state’s individual income tax was expected to produce $185 million in August, but collections totaled $193 million. August’s $169 million in sales tax revenue topped the $143 million estimate.
Parkinson said the August revenue totals indicated that boosting the sales tax to 6.3% from 5.3% on July 1 did not stifle the Kansas economy, as some feared.
“The modest sales tax increase has not depressed the spending habits of Kansans,” Parkinson said. “We also saw increases in individual income taxes,” indicating that people are finding work.
Parkinson said he is hopeful he will not have to cut the state budget of $13.7 billion during fiscal 2011 as he did twice last year due to declining revenues.
In February, Moody’s Investors Service lowered its outlook for Kansas and the state’s $1.5 billion of debt to negative from stable.
The report attributed the drop to “the state’s continuing fiscal strains, diminished pension funded status, potential legal constraints on the state’s ability to reduce expenditures, and a reliance on non-recurring fiscal measures.”
Moody’s retained its Aa1 issuer rating for Kansas with the outlook change. Standard & Poor’s rates the state’s credit AA-plus with a stable outlook.
Fitch Ratings does not have an issuer rating for Kansas, but rates the state’s lease-revenue debt AA-minus.
Kansas has no statutory authority for general obligation debt. Instead, it issues bonds that are supported by lease-rental payments from legislative appropriations for most projects, as well as highway bonds and other debt supported by dedicated revenues.
Parkinson contrasted the state’s success in developing a bipartisan budget for fiscal 2011 that combined tax increases with spending cuts to the situation in Washington.
“While D.C. politicians continue their childish bickering, in Kansas we are on the right track,” Parkinson said. “Our budget is in balance, we now have a surplus, and we have the seventh-lowest unemployment rate of any state in the country.”