Friday, July 18, 2008

I was at Governor Patrick's Town Meeting in Holyoke last night...a more in-depth report will follow.

However at the center of the discussion – there were over 200 people there who were given to ask questions of the governors; only seven or eight had that opportunity – was his budget cuts that affect a number of programs in Western Massachusetts.

At a press availability at the end of the meeting, I asked Patrick how it felt to be talking with people whose programs and services he cut. I pointed out that across the canal – the meeting was conducted in front of the Children's Museum at Heritage State Park – was a teen center run by Girl's Inc. that had lost $50,000 of its funding and is now trying to scramble to keep the place open. It serves 1,000 girls a year.

Patrick said that these were no easy decision and that he was trying to be "prudent."

I've heard from several mayors the predictions for the next fiscal year of 2010 are dire with reduced revenues expected. Here is a report that discusses this year's revenues so far and what is expected in the future:

Revenue Commissioner Navjeet K. Bal today announced that preliminary revenue collections for fiscal year 2008 were $20.888 billion, an increase of $1.152 billion or 5.8 percent over fiscal 2007 collections. The total is $663
million above the fiscal 2008 estimate of $20.225 billion.

“FY2008 was a record year for revenue collections, but the driving elements of that record year – income tax paid on capital gains, dividends and interest, settlement of some large tax cases, and strong withholding tax
collections – will likely not occur again in FY2009,” said DOR Commissioner Navjeet K. Bal.

Revenue collections for the month of June were $2.273 billion. The total was less than the collection of June 2007 by $21 million or 0.9 percent, but was $33 million or 0.9 percent above the monthly benchmark.

“For the second month in a row, overall collections fell below the levels seen in May and June of 2007,” Bal said. “May’s drop was partially due to quicker processing of tax returns in April, but with the June numbers we are
clearly seeing a slowdown unrelated to the speed of tax return processing.”

For the year ending June 30, income tax collections totaled $12.493 billion, an increase of $1.094 billion or 9.6 percent, $455 million above the benchmark. Withholding, which increased $433 million or 5.0 percent, was $29 million over the yearly benchmark, but income from tax estimated payments which include capital gains, dividends and interest rose $697 million or
17.1 percent, which was $481 million above the benchmark. Refunds were $1.334 billion, up $38 million or 2.9 percent, $56 million over benchmark. Sales tax, considered a bellwether for consumer spending and confidence, was
$4.086 billion, up only $21 million, or 0.5 percent, $54 million below the yearly benchmark. Corporate and business tax collections of $2.549 billion for the year were up $72 million, or 2.9 percent, $275 million above the
benchmark, with most of the growth coming from several large settlements totaling $218 million received from financial institutions for taxes due in prior years. Without those settlements, all of which represent a one-time
revenue boost, corporate and business tax collection would have been at least $146 million less than last year.

Total tax collections for the month of June were below the benchmark for both income and sales tax but were above the monthly benchmark for corporate and business tax collections.

Income tax collections for June were $1.246 billion, up $27 million or 2.2 percent from a year ago, but $8 million below benchmark. The only income tax type to exceed the June monthly benchmark was income from estimated
payments, $49 million or 10.5 percent more than a year ago, $49 million over benchmark. Withholding tax was down $3 million or 0.4 percent from a year ago, $36 million below the benchmark.

Sales and use tax collection of $349 million was down $3 million, or 1.0 percent from June 2007, $9 million below benchmark.

Corporate and business tax collections of $514 million were down $19 million, or 3.5 percent from a year ago but $49 million above the monthly benchmark.

So is Patrick being smart and preparing for the worse? Will the Legislature take a cue from him and not restore his vetoes? Time will tell. Right now, though there are programs and services that provide a safety net of sorts that will be going away. How will that affect our standard of living as a region?

©2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

No comments: