By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Nevada State Budget Director Andrew Clinger said today he expects the current two-year budget to end up next June 30 with about $100 million more in tax revenues than projected in January.
While there are increased costs to the state that will offset that optimistic assessment, the higher than anticipated tax revenues should help carry the state forward into the 2011 legislative session in February without the need for any further budget cuts, he said.
The state is about $57 million ahead in tax revenues right now, with sales and use taxes, the modified business tax and the insurance premium tax all above projections, Clinger said. If that trend continues, the state will hit or exceed the $100 million mark by the end of the biennium, he said.
Increased costs to the state include higher Medicaid caseloads, which are expected to cost about $10 million more than budgeted, Clinger said.
The state was also counting on about $88.5 million from the extension of a Medicaid program by Congress, but that is not now expected to be approved, he said. A number of states were anticipating that Congress would approve a six-month extension of a temporary enhancement to the program which provides funding for state Medicaid and other health programs. The temporary extension would have brought $88.5 million to Nevada and was included in the state budget.
Another $9.4 million for the state’s welfare program, called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, was part of the same bill that now won’t be forthcoming either, he said.
“We have pluses and minuses,” Clinger said. “But when you sort of take the additional revenue that we have and start subtracting those things off, we’re going to end up pretty close to what we thought we would during the special session.”
The Legislature in February approved $800 million in spending cuts and limited fee increases to balance the current two-year state budget.
Clinger said one wild card is a legal challenge to the state’s use of $62 million taken from Clark County for a pipeline project as part of the plan to balance the budget. That diversion of funds is being challenged in court by the Clark County Clean Water Coalition.
The money was counted on in the budget for the current fiscal year that began July 1, and the Legislature will have to address the issue should the funding not materialize, he said.
The positive change in tax revenues from projections made in January by the Economic Forum are being seen in most major state revenues. Gaming revenues are an exception so far.
Frank Streshley, an analyst with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, reported last week that the final gaming numbers for fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30, were about $8.5 million below the forum projections.
Taxable sales for April, released earlier this month, were up 2 percent, the first increase in 20 months. The general fund portion of the sales and use taxes is 3.2 percent, or $19.3 million, above the Economic Forum’s forecast for the 10 months of fiscal year 2010.
State Budget Director Andrew Clinger on new tax revenue forecast:
Clinger on the balance between new revenues and unanticipated expenditures: