Tax collections up 25.7%
State officials say more data is required to draw conclusions
Tax collections for the first month of the fiscal year are up 25.7 percent from a year ago, but officials cautioned that it is too early to reach any long-term conclusions based on one month of data.
State officials say they expect to get a better picture of the state's economy when the Council on Revenues meets later this month to deliver its quarterly forecast.
The state's general fund take for July was $398.9 million, up 25.7 percent from the $317.3 million taken in during July 2006.
General excise and use taxes were $258.9 million in July, up 34.2 percent from $192.9 million in the same month last year.
The state Tax Department said last month's tax collections were increased due to some timing issues, including a "weekend effect," meaning that because the last day of June was on a weekend, taxes collected that day were included in the July take.
"It would be premature to make a full year projections based on a single month's tax revenues," Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi said in a news release. "However, the report is encouraging and shows a strong start in (fiscal year) 2008."
Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Rosalyn Baker agreed, adding that the early numbers should ease some of the concerns of Gov. Linda Lingle, who has restricted the release of some funds in anticipation of the council's forecast.
"This is very encouraging," said Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena). "Hopefully, if things continue to be strong, we'll have a much better opportunity to get the items released that the Legislature appropriated and then move forward to address some of the concerns that we're going to face next session."
Lingle has said she is optimistic about how the council will view the state's economy, but she continues to scrutinize all spending in light of a recent prediction of the economy beginning to slow.
"I support the Council on Revenues being conservative about it," Lingle said recently. "They understand what's riding on their prediction."
In May the council had predicted revenue growth of 4 percent in fiscal year 2007, which ended June 30, but actual numbers showed a growth of just 3.4 percent, meaning the state wound up with about $115 million less than predicted.
The May forecast predicted revenue growth of 6 percent in the current fiscal year.