(The Center Square) — Georgia’s net tax collections during September totaled nearly $3.3 billion, an increase of 6.4% from a year ago.
The collections were nearly $199.1 million higher than last year. However, September net tax collections decreased by 3.2%, or $97.8 million, without motor fuel tax revenues and after local sales tax distribution adjustments.
During the first three months of the fiscal year, total revenues were up 6.1% or $463 million from a year ago. State officials said the reinstatement of the state motor fuel tax, which was suspended during the same period last year, drove the increase.
Last month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, declared a state of emergency and suspended the state’s excise tax on motor and locomotive fuel. The governor subsequently extended the suspension, which remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 11.
The revenue hit should start showing up in next month’s numbers.
Aside from the motor fuels tax and local sales tax distribution adjustments, revenues for the first three months of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 were down 1.3% from a year ago.
“Revenues are lower than a year ago once we account for the reinstatement of the motor fuel tax, but the sky is not falling,” Kyle Wingfield, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, said in a statement to The Center Square. “We are coming off a series of multibillion-dollar surpluses, and the drop in revenues through the first three months of the fiscal year is small by comparison.
“The General Assembly and Governor Kemp have been conservative budgeters, keeping spending increases modest, so the budget could withstand a much harder fall than what we are seeing so far,” Wingfield added. “These revenue numbers confirm the wisdom of taking that fiscally responsible approach, and of maintaining it.”
However, in a statement, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Senior Fiscal Analyst Danny Kanso said that with more than $10.7 billion in “undesignated reserves” at the end of fiscal 2023, “Georgia is positioned to make historic investments in the future of its residents by expanding access to affordable child care, upgrading tens of thousands of school buses and addressing a host of urgent workforce needs.”
“Abundant resources are available to sustain both major one-time investments and to address ongoing needs across state government,” Kanso added. “Georgia’s current revenue estimate projects the sharpest drop in tax revenues in over four decades, even as the state reports year-over-year tax revenues that have increased by 6.1% through the first quarter (3 months) of FY 2024. Georgia can make significant improvements by aligning the state’s budget more closely with the current, recurring revenue collections and responsibly allocating the available $10.7 billion for investment in the state’s future.”