Citing better-than-expected revenues during the first five months of fiscal 2011, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe last week ordered the Department of Finance and Administration to reinstate cost-of-living adjustments, career-service recognitions, and merit pay for state employees.

The latest monthly revenue report said fiscal 2011 revenues totaled $1.88 billion through November, more than $25 million above expectations. Total tax collections are up 2.4%, with sales tax revenue posting a 4.7% increase.

Revenue collections have exceeded expectations and year-ago levels since the fiscal year began June 1.

"Going into this current budget, we froze state salaries out of an abundance of caution to see how our economy would recover," Beebe said. "After seeing the strength of our economic indicators and remaining ahead of forecast for the year so far, I've decided to reinstate the COLA for our employees."

November collections of $344.4 million were $3.4 million less than expected and $47.2 million less than in November 2009, but the finance department said the apparent fall-off is the result of a one-time $60 million payment of corporate income taxes last year.

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