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State revenues continue fast pace
Hill Jack
State Sen. Jack Hill

New fees and tax revenues started showing up on the state’s revenue report for August and made a good month look even higher. Total state revenues of $1.58 billion were 13.6 percent up over August of a year ago. The increase of $190 million for the month contained increased fuel tax collections totaling $43.6 million, highway impact fees of $844,000 and hotel/motel room fees totaling $14.9 million.

Gov. Deal reported that net revenues reflecting just the increase of August 2015 over 2014 net revenues, showed an increase of $130.5 million or 9.4 percent. This net increase reflects the economic vitality and growth of the state and puts Georgia at the top of the Southeastern states.

The largest category of state revenues, individual income taxes, which contains individual returns, payroll taxes and small businesses reporting, was very strong, increasing $80.4 million or 11.3 percent. Withholding taxes showed a strong gain of 10 percent, refunds were flat and other categories were up.

Net sales taxes to the state were up a healthy 7.4 percent on an increase of $31.3 million. This increase is in spite of the shift of the 1 percent sales tax on fuel that previously went into the treasury but now is directed to DOT. That decrease probably amounts to about $10-$15 million monthly.

Corporate income taxes were up as well showing an increase of $6.2 million. Tag/title fees were up $3 million or 11.4 percent.
Tobacco taxes declined 9.3 percent and alcoholic beverages increased 4.5 percent for the month.

New taxes/fees for transportation

August was the first month you could readily identify the increased excise taxes on fuel and new fees put into effect July 1 by HB 170. Motor fuel taxes, now wholly an excise tax, increased $43.6 million for the month. It should be noted that part of this increase, probably $10-$15 million is not new revenues, but the shift of the 1 percent sales taxes on fuel sales that had previously gone to the treasury.

New fees being directed to transportation include for the month, highway impact fees, $844,000 and hotel/motel Fees, $14.9 million. The tax credits that were eliminated on electric/alternative fuel autos would only be felt in the general treasury when those vehicles are sold without the tax credit being claimed.

Two-month totals excellent so far

Well, if the world economy is contracting, you can’t sense it in Georgia.

After two months of the fiscal year, even when subtracting off new fuel tax and fees, Georgia’s revenues are performing at the top of Southeastern states in growth. Overall, state revenues are up 9.8 percent year-to-date, increasing some $281 million. Individual income taxes are up 10.1 percent and sales taxes up 5.9 percent. Corporate taxes are up 4.9 percent and tag/title fees up 4.3 percent. Tobacco taxes are virtually flat and alcoholic beverages taxes are up 5.2 percent.

Taking off fuel revenues, growth is still at 7.5 percent. With the outstanding July and August months, Georgia is ahead of the budget we have passed by over $200 million. Adjusting down for new transportation revenues, the increase shows about $164 million ahead of budget.

Georgia stays on top

The state’s 12-month trailing average now shows a revenue increase of 6.9 percent independent of any new fees or taxes. Here is how we rank against other states who have reported two months’ revenues:

Georgia — 6.9 percent (net of new transportation revenues)
Alabama — 4.5 percent
Louisiana — minus -1.8 percent
Texas — 1.4 percent
Mississippi — 2.8 percent
Tennessee — 8.2 percent (Reporting one-time payments that have pushed up totals) YTD showing about 6 percent.

Georgia is clicking on all cylinders right now and economic activity is strong. The state is outpacing virtually every other Southeastern state in revenue growth and is apparently unaffected so far by oil price declines and world economy weaknesses.

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
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