February is normally the lowest revenue-producing month of the year since it has only 28 days. Additionally, lower refunds went out in January due to the federal government holding up its electronic refunds. So February was not expected to be a barnburner.
With that background, a 4 percent increase for the month has to be encouraging. Total revenue for the month was $796.1 million.
Individual income taxes, as expected, were down some 12 percent or ($28.1 million), reflecting the expected increase in refunds (although the $2 million increase seems low). Gross sales taxes were a little better at a 3 percent increase. Net sales taxes to the state showed an 8.3 percent increase.
Motor fuel taxes were down 2.4 percent for the month. Corporate taxes continue to do very well showing an increase of some $30.9 million, and bringing in almost as much as sales taxes for the month. Tobacco and alcoholic beverages were both up at 22.3 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively.
Year-to-date, state revenues are up 5.6 percent, so the state is meeting budget projections. Individual income taxes show a 6.4 percent increase and sales taxes a 3 percent net increase. Motor fuel taxes are down 2.2 percent. Corporate tax collections have been strong, showing an increase of $128.08 million, or 66.6 percent. This is actually more than the increase in sales taxes for the year so far.
Collections through February total $11.1 billion, with an increase of $594.6 million. So far, so good.
Amended FY 2013 budget passes
The Senate and the House passed the conference committee agreement on the state budget for the rest of this fiscal year. Revenues that slipped from 5 percent to 4 percent during the year required a reshuffling of the revenue estimate and thus the budget.
The $19.3 billion budget fills a hole in Medicaid and sends funds to hospitals for charity care. This budget includes the midyear education adjustment, which funds growth of 1.34 percent or 17,000 students in K-12 schools.
The budget continues an aggressive residency program that will help increase the number of doctors settling in Georgia. Most of the other activity in the budget centered around restoring cuts. A cut to school nutrition programs of $1.6 million was fully restored by the conference committee.
House and Senate agree on new car title tax
Last week, conferees from the House and Senate met to hash out their differences over HB 266, the supplement to last year’s car title change. The compromise gives the Department of Revenue the ability to set the tax for “buy here pay here” dealers, but does not require it under law. HB 266 fixes a problem inhibiting the leasing of automobiles.
General Assembly reaches crossover day; Senate creates Invest Georgia fund
The Senate passed SB 224, which creates the Invest Georgia fund. Backed by the lieutenant governor, SB 224 creates the Invest Georgia board, which with the help of a third party would provide venture capital to young Georgia start-up businesses. The purpose of the fund is to keep start-up Georgia companies from leaving the state for areas where venture capital is more readily available. The funds will focus on companies in innovative or entrepreneurial fields to help continue the growth of technology companies in Georgia. The state will receive 100 percent of its principal investment back and 80 percent of any profit made when a company is sold or goes public.
Senate passes common-sense gun legislation
The Senate passed SB 101, by a vote of 41-10, which would clear up various second amendment issues in the state code. It would allow those from other states who have carry permits to have those permits honored in the state of Georgia. The bill also bars public housing authorities from prohibiting the lawful possession of firearms as a condition of residency.
The bill allows those who are between the ages of 18 and 21 who have military training to obtain a carry permit as long as they were not dishonorably discharged, as well as barring the state from maintaining a database of information regarding persons issued weapon carry permits. Judges are authorized to rule on the validity of a permit, but may provide no other information.
Bills passed in the Senate
SB 181 - Changes Georgia History Month from February to September, so that it will no longer overlap with American History Month.
SR 378 - Allows for the citizens to vote for a constitutional amendment to legalize the sale of fireworks in Georgia. A 10 percent excise tax on fireworks would fund trauma care and firefighter services.
SB 163 - Requires the Department of Community Health to study options for Medicaid reform in Georgia and identify possible savings for the state.
SR 371 - Calls for a constitutional convention to write an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require the federal government to balance the federal budget. SB 206 accompanied the resolution to require that the representatives of Georgia only consider a vote on an amendment to balance the budget.
SB 231 - Extends the 5 percent fine added on traffic violations to help fund the Driver’s Education Commission to June 2018. The measure was set to expire this year.
SB 236 - Requires that insurance companies indicate the percentage of any premium increase caused by the Affordable Care Act to their customers.
SB 85 - Allows nurses and pharmacists to administer vaccines other than the influenza vaccine.
SB 243 - Tightens laws regarding the scholarships for private schools, as well as converting it to a more needs-based system.
If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at http://www.legis.ga.gov.
I may be reached at
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E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
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