Vermont’s revenues fall short to start new fiscal year

VERY PLEASED: Vermont Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding said he was “very pleased” with July revenues, which missed monthly projections by $1.82 million.

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s monthly revenues fell almost 1.8 percent short of the target in July, marking the third time in four months that revenues have failed to meet projections.

According to a report released Thursday from the Agency of Administration, General Fund revenues for the month totaled $101 million — $1.82 million, or 1.77 percent, below the forecast of $102.82 million. July was the first month of the new fiscal year.

With the exception of June, where revenues were 0.25 percent above target, tax collections have failed to align with projections each month since April. Year-over-year, total General Fund revenues for July were down $2.46 million, or 2.38 percent behind actual results for fiscal 2014.

July’s sagging revenues appear to reinforce the Shumlin administration’s decision late last month to revise downward its fiscal year 2015 revenue growth forecast from 4.8 percent to 3 percent.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has requested that all government agencies attempt to cut budgets 4 percent to make up for a now-projected $31 million shortfall in annual revenue. The administration’s aim is to close the 1.8 percent gap between the new growth forecast and the one originally anticipated in the 2015 budget.

Jeb Spaulding, Vermont’s secretary of administration, found a silver lining in the report.

“I am very pleased with our revenue performance in July. Personal Income Tax collections were up 4.63 percent over last July, Sales and Use Tax collections were up 7.47 percent, Rooms and Meals Tax receipts were up 4.36 percent, and the Motor Vehicle Purchase and Use Tax was up 18.91 percent,” he said.

Spaulding conceded, however, that the sliding revenue in July “reinforces the need to quickly implement a spending reduction plan consistent with the updated FY 2015 official revenue forecast.”

The Agency of Administration on Monday will deliver a set of proposed budget cuts to the Joint Fiscal Committee. After a public hearing Tuesday, the committee on Wednesday will either approve or make amendments to the proposed spending cuts.

Contact Bruce Parker at bparker@watchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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