February State Tax Collections Exceed Estimates
In a press call Monday, officials from the state Department of Revenue said February marks the first time this fiscal year that the state’s brought in more money than estimated.
February’s tax collections exceeded estimates for the month, but total revenue collections are still lower than those of last year.
Department of Revenue Cabinet Secretary Dave Hardy said that means the state’s 2017 budget gap remains at the $123 million his office estimated in January. Last week, Gov. Jim Justice announced he would sweep one time monies located in state agency accounts rather than use the Rainy Day Fund to close that gap.
If the fund falls below 15 percent of the general fund budget, it's possible the state’s bond rating could be downgraded by national rating agencies. The bond rating is like the state's credit score; another downgrade would negatively affect the state’s ability to borrow money.
"We are trying very hard to make it to June 30, 2017, by not using the rainy day fund to fill this gap, and therefore not going below the 15 percent number that's so important to the bond rating agency," Hardy said.
Sales tax revenue for February increased by about 1 percent from February of last year. Personal income tax revenue fell almost 14 percent from last year.