Monday, August 9, 2010

Revenues are up!

July state revenues were up 4.7% for the month and it is hard to portray this as anything but good news. Unless there is an unknown amount of income tax refunds laying in wait, this is a solid month of growth at $1.147 billion in revenues, or about the 2006 level.

Individual Income taxes came in at $540.6 million or up 3.6%. Sales taxes in total were up 3.0% or $818.5 million. Local Sales tax distribution was off by
-5.1% but state net sales taxes were up 2.4% or a total of $454.9 million for the month.

Motor Fuel taxes were encouraging as well. Total collections were up $16.1 million or 24.8% with fuel sales taxes increasing $12.6 million or 47.2% and excise taxes up 9.2% or $3.5 million.

Corporate income taxes had a good month, up $5.5 million or 40.2% but tobacco tax collections were off $3.2 million or -26.0%. Alcohol tax collections were down slightly at -1.0%.

So, Fiscal Year 2011 is off to a good start. It is our hope that the state has turned a corner ever so slightly as the unemployment rate also improved slightly this past month. Georgia's $17.8 billion dollar budget only needs another $16.8 billion in the next 11 months to make budget.


Much has been written in the press recently concerning the lottery funded HOPE Scholarship, and legislative committees are beginning to consider the fact that lottery funding is essentially flat and the costs of lottery funded programs including the HOPE scholarship is growing. While there is a robust reserve approaching $1 billion, the deficit will increase dramatically over the next few years according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission.

Over the next weeks, this column will examine these issues as well - considering the operation of the lottery and the entire range of programs funded by the lottery. It is important, though, to understand the entirety of the lottery expenditures before considering reducing HOPE or making any changes. Additionally, understanding what the standards are for each program is revealing.

Here are the major lottery funded programs and their status as to how they are earned.

Program Appropriated Percent Means Test Merit Based
HOPE - Public Colleges $474.5 million 42.1% No Yes
HOPE - Private Colleges - $ 59.3 million 5.3% No Yes
HOPE- Technical Colleges $206.3 million 18.3% No No
Pre-K Program $355.0 million 31.5% No

There are about 2.8% of other scholarships including Engineering, GMC, Accel and the College Opportunity Grant in addition to the 1% Student Finance gets for the administering of HOPE.

So the HOPE Scholarship only accounts for half of the Lottery expenditures. The legislature must evaluate all lottery funded programs the way we are evaluating the HOPE Scholarship.

Thank you for your interest. Please contact me if I may be of assistance at (404) 463-1366 or at

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