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Encouraging numbers
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January is one of the top revenue months of the year, usually second behind April, which is often the height of the income tax season. Sales tax collections from the Christmas holidays are reflected in the January revenue report as well. At an 8.1 percent increase, total January revenues followed another strong month in December. In fact, at $1.55 billion, the collections in January were about $400,000 over the December total.

Net revenues for the month were up $117.1 million over January of 2010. Individual income tax collections were up a whopping 12.2 percent, which reflect individual taxes paid as well as small business activity. Sales taxes, although up for the month, actually only showed a 1.2 percent increase after local sales tax collections were distributed.

Motor fuel tax revenues were up 15.7 percent, although the excise portion showed a decrease, with higher prices possibly driving down usage. But sales taxes increased $10.3 million or 39.1. Corporate tax collections were up $3.6 million. Tobacco taxes continue to drift downward at -3.6 percent and alcoholic beverage tax collections were exactly flat for the month.

After seven months, revenue growth’s not too shabby

Year to date, state revenues are showing an 8.1 percent increase, remembering once again the comparison of the first three months of this year to the totals a year ago when refunds were late going out. Additionally, because the months of February through May in 2010 started to improve, the margin between 2011’s final months and last year is expected to narrow. So the percentage gain is likely to shrink over the next 5 months.

But still, however you figure it, the state is $704.8 million ahead of the same seven months of last fiscal year. Individual income taxes show an 8.6 percent increase YTD and sales tax collections for the state show a 5.5 percent increase YTD.

Motor fuel taxes continue to show the first real growth after at least two years of reductions, growing 17 percent, or some $78.7 million over last year. These funds are badly needed by DOT.

Corporate income taxes continue to be flat, showing only a 0.3 percent gain for the year so far. Tobacco taxes are down -3.6 percent and alcoholic beverages tax collections are exactly flat.

Inside the sales tax numbers so far in FY2011

Among the sales tax categories showing gains YTD were food (6.7 percent), accommodations (16.8 percent), general merchandise (3.3 percent), automotive (11 percent) and construction (6.4 percent). Declining categories included home furnishings (-3.1 percent), and manufacturing (-9.6 percent).

A look ahead

February has been a miserable month the past two years so maybe it will not be too difficult to improve over last year. Remember, of course, that the ice storm of Jan 10-14 and the resulting loss of millions of dollars of economic activity in Atlanta will be felt in the February figures.

Senate action last week

Bills introduced:

SB 41: Requires anyone convicted of DUI with a child in the vehicle to have an ignition interlock device installed.

SB 42: Prohibits an employer from obtaining an employee’s or prospective employee’s credit information unless it is relevant to the particular position.

SB 43: Expands the mandatory school attendance ages from between 6 and 16 years old to between 5 and 17 years old.

SB 49: Expands the mandatory school attendance age to between 6 and161/2.

SB 63: Requires Medicaid cards to contain a computer chip holding a photo and fingerprint of the cardholder. Also phases in fingerprint scans before and following a visit, preventing billing when services were not rendered.

Bills passed:

SB 30: Requires Municipal Court Judges to be licensed attorneys and members of the State Bar.

If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at

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