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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 2:50pm

State Revenues Rising Slowly

Georgia’s tax revenues are increasing at a slow but steady rate. The state has collected at least $115 million more in the first two months of this fiscal year than last year. That’s a growth rate of 4.4 percent. Officials have predicted Georgia would only see a little more than 3 percent growth in revenue.

State fiscal economist Ken Heaghney says this is good news, but national events could still put a damper on Georgia’s growth. “The budget negotiations in Washington are the primary factors, with the budget and the debt service limit that needs to be resolved. And then of course the geopolitical situation’s pretty unsettled." he says. " But absent those really bad surprises, I think we have a good chance of growing at close to this level through the year.”

Heaghney says the primary driver of August’s growth was the new Title Ad Valorum tax. Even though the state has lost a lot of revenue from taxes paid on car sales, the new title tax has led to a net increase in tax revenues.“We’re losing sales tax revenue because the sales on autos has gone away. We’re getting additional title ad valorum tax, the title fee revenue, which didn’t exist in last year’s report. And we expect that for a year or two, that that switchover will provide a net addition to state revenues.” Heaghney says it's a balancing act.

But it is hard to predict what state revenues to expect. In July, Georgia saw an increase of 6.7 percent in the year-to-year comparison and June's increase was 5.9 percent.