DALLAS — Oklahoma general fund revenues came in higher than expected in December, with sales tax collections ­leading the way.

Treasurer Ken Miller, who was sworn in for his first two-year term Dec. 10, said Oklahoma’s economy appears to be continuing its slow and steady recovery from the recession. General fund collections totaled $454.4 million in December, an increase of $52.1 million from December 2009 and $18.9 million more than forecast. The sales tax produced $145.2 million for the month.

“Sales tax collections show a 7% increase in spending from last December,” Miller said. “While those collections are $3.7 million less than two years ago, they are up by $9.4 million from last Christmas.”

The sales tax generated $828.1 million during the first half of fiscal 2011, ­according to Miller. That’s $73 million more than the amount collected during same period last year and $44 million more than forecast.

The revenue report released Tuesday reflects retail spending between mid-November and mid-December.

Miller said sales tax collections are a good indicator of consumer confidence and increased retail spending signals greater optimism.

Gov. Mary Fallin, who also began her first term this week, said she was encouraged by the report. She said it shows that Oklahoma’s economy did not fall as steeply as some states did during the downturn.

General fund revenues over the first six months of fiscal 2011 were $2.37 billion — $166 million more than the same period of fiscal 2010 and $68.3 million above the latest official forecast.

Miller said year-to-date revenue reports show the recovery is occurring across ­virtually all sectors of Oklahoma’s ­economy, although the severance tax lags other indicators due to the low price of natural gas.

“We are seeing moderate growth in income tax collections, including withholding taxes,” he said. “Oklahoma businesses are beginning to gain confidence, but are still shaking off the impact of the recession.”

Net income-tax collections for the first half of fiscal 2011 total $987 million, with $900 million from the personal income tax and $87.2 million from the corporate tax. The personal tax collections are up 2% from fiscal 2010, and the corporate tax is up 16% from last year and almost 40% above the forecast.

Net income-tax collections of $203.8 million in December were $31.7 million more than last December. That ­total ­includes $172.9 million of personal tax collections and $31 million from the ­corporate tax.

December collections include $34.5 million from the severance tax on oil and gas and $57.3 million of investment earnings and taxes on insurance and alcohol.

Miller was elected as the state’s 18th treasurer in November with almost 67% of the vote. He has a doctorate in political economics from the University of ­Oklahoma and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

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