State revenues down $12 million after 2 months of fiscal year

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State revenues down $12 million after 2 months of fiscal year
By Jeff Jenkins, MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The struggling coal industry is rearing its head in state revenue collections with coal severance revenue already down $20 million from estimates after just two months of the fiscal year.

The state Department of Revenue released the latest numbers Thursday. The state collected $299 million in taxes in August, which was $7.5 million below estimates. Shortfalls in July and August have put the state $12.3 million below where it thought it would be. It’s due to the continued downturn in the coal industry, state revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said.

“There may be some good news in the area of personal income tax (collections) but at the end of the day we are continuing to run behind the set estimates each month which if that continues for several more months it will put us at the same situation as the last couple of years,” Kiss said.

Severance tax receipts are down 37 percent from last year at this time, the revenue department said. Coal exports are down 70 percent from just a few years ago.

The state is looking for some bright spots, Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said.

“We will have some good news coming up in a couple weeks when the Procter & Gamble groundbreaking takes place (in Martinsburg). There is some activity beyond the minerals, but the severance industry is definitely hurting,” he said.

There are currently no new plans to cut spending in state government, Kiss said.

“We are continuing to look at it and monitoring it but right now, other than the hiring freeze which is place, we are currently not looking at or designing anything,” he said.