Entering 2020, Governor Jim Justice reported today that December 2019 revenue collections were $6.9 million above estimates, which was 1.2 percent above prior year receipts.
December also marks the end of the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2020, which cumulatively is 1.4 percent below the record-breaking prior year receipts.
After a disappointing two months that began the fiscal year, Justice said, the last four months came in at $16.4 million above estimates, exceeding expectations.
“The thing to remember is that most of the surplus we saw in the historic FY 2019 numbers was built into the FY 2020 budget, and we are pacing close to those record-setting numbers,” Justice said.
“Our state is still in great financial health, and we’re doing well in lots of areas. That said, we are always looking at all of our numbers every single day because we know that even though we’ve done so much, there are always areas where we can continue to improve.
"Secretary Hardy and his team at the Department of Revenue are going to stay on top of it,” he said.
December General Revenue Fund collections of $428.2 million were $6.9 million above estimate and 1.2 percent above prior year receipts. Year-to-date collections of more than $2.203 billion were nearly $33.4 million below estimate and 1.4 percent below prior year receipts.
The cumulative shortfall was due to a significant slump in energy prices, according to the governor's office, particularly for natural gas and slower than anticipated growth in income withholding tax revenues partially due to a work stoppage involving interstate gas pipeline projects.
Coal sales have also recently slowed due to both a global economic slowdown with lower steel demand and stiffer domestic competition from natural gas in the electric power generation market.
A summary by major component follows:
Personal income tax collections of nearly $174.8 million were 2.9 percent ahead of prior year receipts. Cumulative personal income tax collections of nearly $973.6 million were $33.6 million below estimate and 1 percent ahead of prior year receipts. Following a 2.8 percent decline in the first two months of the year, collection growth resumed at a 2.6 percent pace over the past four months.
Consumer sales tax collections of $127.3 million were more than $1.1 million below estimate in December and 2.6 percent ahead of prior year receipts. Cumulative collections of $683.1 million were $2.8 million below estimate and 1.6 percent above prior year receipts. After falling by 0.8 percent during the first two months of this year, collection growth rebounded by an average of 2.6 percent over the past four months.
December severance tax collections totaled nearly $43.0 million. Monthly collections were more than $0.1 million above estimate and 5.1 percent below prior year receipts. Year-to-date general fund severance tax collections of nearly $136.1 million were $37.8 million below estimate and 34.9 percent below prior year receipts. Wholesale natural gas prices slumped from an average of roughly $2.86 per MCF in 2018 to significantly less than $2.00 per MCF in recent weeks. In addition, the value of foreign coal exports slumped over the past few months following a peak of activity reached in January of 2019. Year-to-date local tax distributions paid out of general revenues were up by 11.6 percent from the prior year due to higher energy prices, and growth in coal, oil and natural gas sales in prior periods.
B&O tax collections totaled nearly $17.6 million in December and $67.4 million year-to-date. Monthly collections were up 121 percent from the prior year largely due to a large carryover of deposits due at the end of November to early December. Cumulative collections were $13.4 million above estimate.
Corporation net income tax collections totaled $30.4 million in December and more than $97.5 million for the year-to-date. Monthly collections were nearly $2.6 million below estimate. Cumulative collections were still $23.3 million above estimate and 0.1% above prior year receipts.
November tobacco products tax collections of $14.1 million were $0.9 million below estimate and 1.9% above prior year receipts. Cumulative collections of nearly $85.6 million were $7.4 million below estimate and 4.0 percent below prior year receipts.
Departmental collections totaled more than $8.2 million in December and nearly $15.2 million for the year-to-date. Cumulative collections were more than $6.6 million above estimate and nearly double prior year cumulative receipts.
Interest income receipts totaled nearly $1.8 million in December and more than $15.1 million for the year-to-date. Cumulative receipts were nearly $2.0 million below estimate but also nearly 80% ahead of last year.