DALLAS — Higher-than-expected general fund collections in September pushed Oklahoma revenues 4% past the official estimate for the first quarter of fiscal 2011 and 6.8% higher than the first three months of fiscal 2010.

The state collected $1.2 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year based on preliminary reports, Treasurer Scott Meacham said Tuesday.

The quarterly total is $75.8 million more than the same period of fiscal 2010 and $45.4 million more than the official estimate used for fiscal 2011 appropriations.

“Compared to the first quarter of last year, we are seeing growth in every major revenue source,” Meacham said. “The only area where we are behind last year’s numbers is in gross production taxes on natural gas.”

September collections totaled $459.7 million, according to the treasurer.

The largest revenue source in September was the state income tax, which generated $237.1 million. Oklahoma collected $196.1 million in individual taxes and $41 million from the corporate income tax.

The personal income tax generated $444 million in the quarter, down $6.4 million from last year but $17.4 million more than predicted.

Corporate income taxes totaled $50 million, more than 33% higher than in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 and almost 60% above the official estimate.

Meacham said personal income tax revenues are a good indication of how well the Oklahoma economy is faring. Revenues from the tax have been up and down over the past few months, he said, but are 8% higher than expected for the first quarter.

“Individual income tax collections have been slower to rebound from the recession,” Meacham said. “However, as employment rebounds and the national economy continues to recover, income tax collections should improve.”

The state sales tax produced $413.9 million in the first three months, up $35.2 million from fiscal 2010 and $26.3 million above the official estimate.

Sales tax revenues in September totaled $138 million, $11.7 million more than expected and $16.3 million more than in September 2009.

David Blatt of the bipartisan Oklahoma Policy Institute said that while general fund revenues are recovering from what he called “a precipitous drop” during the worst of the downturn, the state’s slow recovery is far from complete.

Fiscal 2011 revenues are almost 25% below the peak of $1.6 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2009, Blatt said.

“It is clear that it will be a long, steep, difficult climb until revenues have fully rebounded,” he said. “For now, it’s not clear whether we are [ascending] or just holding steady.”

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