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Revenues are up, and vetoes are down
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April turned out to be a good month for the state revenue-wise and for the Legislature as well, as Governor Deal’s vetoes were few this year in both the budget and in legislation.

Decrease in refunds key in 11 percent-$151M increase for April
It is no secret that during tax paying season, the flow of tax refunds can skew revenue numbers as we saw in years where refunds were pushed forward into July and August. Of course as the economy slipped, refunds increased and individuals filed as early as possible to get the needed refunds faster. That created the glut.

It appears, though that the recovering economy, little by little, is helping state revenues show improvement and the April numbers reflect decreasing refunds (down 6 percent) and payments increasing (up 8.6 percent) compared to 2011.

Individual income tax payments for April increased as a category 13.2 percent or $93.7 million on total revenues of $1.5 billion.
 Net sales tax collections totaled 4.8 percent, or an increase of only $22 million for the month.

Motor fuel taxes increased 17.7 percent or 6.3 percent on excises taxes and 28.4 percent on sales taxes, producing an increase of about $12 million for the month. Tobacco and alcohol tax revenues were up.

Year-to-date numbers meeting budget projections
After 10 months of the 2012 fiscal year, the state has taken in $13.2 billion, or $676,913 over the first 10 months of FY11 for a percentage gain of 5.4 percent. If 4.4 percent is the target for the remainder of the fiscal year, then we are meeting that goal. Hopefully, if the trend continues, all funds in excess over the budget will go into the reserve at the end of June. Rebuilding the revenue shortfall reserve is critical.

Individual tax payments total $6.7 billion YTD for an increase of $487.7 million or 7.8 percent. Net sales tax collections show $4.4 billion or $225.3 million increase or 5.3 percent. Both of the top two categories are very encouraging. Motor fuel taxes show a moderate 10.1 percent increase YTD, with excise taxes down 2.8 percent and sales taxes on fuel up 22.3 percent or about $76 million in new dollars going into DOT for roads and bridges.

Corporate income taxes continue to be anemic at –23 percent, or -$127.8 million for the year.  Tobacco and alcohol beverage taxes are up 2 percent and 5 percent respectively.

So, unless the wheels come off in May and June, Georgia is poised to wind up the year on a high note.

Gov. Deal vetoes six statewide bills and two budget line-items
As a reflection of the closer working relationship Gov. Deal has established with the Legislature, the governor only vetoed six pieces of statewide legislation and only two budget items. While not vetoing the funds, he also listed eight budget line-items where he instructed departments to disregard non-binding language in the budget.

Governor’s legislative vetoes
SB 38—This bill restored some powers of the state school superintendent that had been taken away under a previous superintendent, mainly to hire and fire top administrators. With this veto, the state board may continue to delegate those powers.

HB 181—This bill made changes to the Special Needs Scholarship. The governor expressed support for the concept, but stated that an amendment added to HB181 would have likely reduced the scholarship award amount, which would likely have resulted in fewer numbers of children being served.

HB 456—Created a Legislative Sunset Review Committee that would have had broad powers to review state agencies and determine if they were still needed. The governor stated that with the state actively initiating zero-based-budgeting, a review is going to be taking place under those auspices. He also noted the estimated cost of between $3 million and $7 million and that no funding was appropriated for the bill.

SB 470—Present Georgia Patient Self Referral laws prohibit providers referring patients to facilities where the provider has an investment interest. The legislation created additional exemptions for counties where a “military junior college” was located. The governor’s veto message noted while this legislation only applied to Baldwin County, the precedent might be set for other exceptions.

HB 1051—Companion bill, HB 1052, did not pass and removes any need for this bill as a stand-alone law.

HB 1117—Originally intended for Fulton County alone dealing with bond sale elections, an amendment would allow wider investments that, in the Governor’s view, put those funds at risk.  He recommended the author re-introduce the original bill again.

Budget vetoes
The governor vetoed a bond of $3 million for renovation of the Rural Development Center at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus for classroom space. He asserted the project was not included on the Board of Regents Capital Outlay Priority List.

Additionally, the governor vetoed $1.47 million in bonds for three rail projects in Liberty County, southwest Georgia and northwest Georgia.  

Next week:  Legislation windup

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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