There is good news on all fronts about state revenue. The Statesman reported today that the franchise tax, the weakling among state revenue producers, is performing above expectations. Overall, tax collections have been robust, up 12.56%, year to date, over 2011 levels. Sales taxes are up 11.71%. Oil severance taxes are up 42.6%. Natural gas severance taxes are up 44.3%. Comptroller Combs estimates that the state will take in $22,620,934 this biennium. Revenues have increased for 25 consecutive months.
In what has become a regular action, the Legislative Budget Board has asked state agencies to prepare to cut their budgets by 10%. The cuts come at a propitious time for the lieutenant governor and speaker, who can take credit for the reductions during a runoff election period in which both have a large stake.
There may be some groans about the reductions, but it’s hard to argue against them at a time when the 83rd Legislature could be convening during a recession. The long-term issue is whether, if there is money available, the state’s leaders will be willing to use it to increase spending on state services in good times?