MONTPELIER – Vermont’s General Fund revenues for April are in, and the numbers are about $21.65 million short of the monthly target set by the Emergency Board in January.
With $201.10 million collected for the month, revenues fell short of the estimated $222.74 million by about 9.7 percent.
Secretary of Administration Susanne Young said the poor performance was largely due to a shortfall in personal income taxes, which missed the target of $165.42 million by $25.3 million, or 15.3 percent. The corporate tax hit $15.5 million, beating projections by $3.9 million.
About $16 million in corporate tax refund requests are under review, according to the Agency of Administration.
For the fiscal year to date, the General Fund total is $3.55 million under target, at $1,237.75 million versus the expected $1,241.30 million.
Young said a forecast readjustment may be in order.
“We knew that our revenue picture for the fiscal year would come into focus at the end of April. Unfortunately, while we ended March with a $18.1 million positive position, the April revenue downturn has moved us to a net negative $3.5 million position,” she said in a statement.
“The lower-than-expected tax receipts in April coupled with relatively flat receipts in Meals and Rooms and Sales and Use taxes with only two months left in the fiscal year is a concern. I will not be surprised to see a revenue downgrade in July as new consensus targets are established.”
The the targets were estimated by the Emergency Board back in January. That board consists of Gov. Phil Scott, committee chairs and other high-profile legislators. April is the 10th month of the 2017 fiscal year.
House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, said the numbers show the state economy continues to struggle.
“I think it’s saying that the economy is sluggish … which might lead to a revenue downgrade and a spending adjustment going forward,” Turner told True North. “I don’t think anybody is talking about that yet; I think in another month we’ll address that.”
The Transportation Fund in April sas $22.91 million, missing its target by $1.47 million. The Education Fund received $15.75 million for the month, falling short $1.22 million of its $16.97 million target.
Compared to this point last year, the General Fund is up by $29.26 million, or 2.42 percent. The Transportation Fund is up $2.73 million, or 1.28 percent. The Education Fund is down $.01 million or .01 percent.
Scott ran for office on a pledge that government spending would not outpace revenue increases. With word on Thursday that Scott may reject the fiscal year 2018 budget over disagreements regarding teacher health care negotiation policies, April’s abysmal numbers are likely to stoke an already heated budget debate.
Rep. Catherine Toll, D-Danville, a member of the Joint Fiscal Committee, told True North that while she had been briefed on the report, she had not yet reviewed the numbers in detail due to a busy schedule for lawmakers wrapping up the legislative session.
“It’s always concerning when you have a revenue report that is not favorable,” Toll said. “We will be keeping a close eye on the May and June reports.”
Rep. Peter J. Fagan, R-Rutland, echoed that sentiment. He says he had been briefed on the report and is concerned about its impact for the months ahead.
Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org