DALLAS — The dire revenue outlook for Kansas eased somewhat on Monday as the Department of Revenue reported higher-than-expected general fund collections.

March revenue was $14 million ahead of what was expected in the latest projection, issued in November, the department said.

Tax collections totaled $362 million last month, thanks to increases in corporate and individual income tax revenues.

The month’s totals mark the first time since November that tax collections have exceeded expectations.

The Legislative Research Department said March’s report lowers the shortfall to $433 million between expected revenue in fiscal 2011, which begins July 1, and the current level of spending.

The department, which reports to the Legislative Budget Committee, put the gap at $467 million in November.

Gov. Mark Parkinson said he was encouraged by the March report but called on lawmakers to “find a shared solution” to the state’s fiscal woes.

“It’s the first time since November that our revenue receipts have exceeded estimates,” Parkinson said. “However, we are by no means out of the woods. Kansas is still facing a significant budget shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“As the legislators head home for their April recess, they will be given a chance to hear how their constituents want them to balance the budget when they return at the end of the month,” he said.

Legislative leaders were unable to agree on a budget for next year before recessing last week.

Lawmakers will return to Topeka on April 28 for a budget session.

Sen. Jay Emler, R-McPherson, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he expects an estimated revenue shortfall of between $450 million and $500 million by the time lawmakers return for the budget session.

The Senate committee developed a proposed budget that would have raised taxes to generate an additional $330 million in fiscal 2011, but the budget proposal from the House Budget Committee does not include higher taxes.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, which includes legislative budget analysts and economists from three state universities, will meet April 16 to prepare the official estimate for the remainder of fiscal 2010.

In November 2009, the group lowered its estimate of fiscal 2010 revenue by $235 million.

General fund revenue so far in fiscal 2010 totals $3.63 billion, $71 million less than expected in the November revised outlook of $3.7 billion. Collections in the same period of fiscal 2009 totaled $3.94 billion.

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