Mo' Money Problems, Part 348

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The doomsday clock continues to tick-tock at the state Capitol as Gov. Jan Brewer weighs whether to sign the budget that Republicans have sent her way.

Brewer has until the end of the week to sign the budget, veto the budget, or let it become law without her signature.

The governor vetoed a similar budget way back in July, saying that it “devastated schools, human services and public safety.” But after a special session that took up most of July and August, GOP lawmakers couldn’t rustle up the votes to put Brewer’s proposed sales-tax hike on the ballot for voters to decide, so they passed what they could and called it quits.

Brewer has begun new talks with Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate. From what we hear, though, Democrats are starting to think that Brewer isn’t very serious about including their ideas and is just using them to get a better deal from the Republicans.

In the meantime, the state’s financial condition remains lousy, according to the latest report from the Joint Legislature Budget Committee.

In July, the first month of our new fiscal year, tax collections continued to come in below expectations. The state collected an estimated $573 million in taxes, which was $33 million below the forecast for the month and $65.5 million below July 2008. That means we’re already getting off to a bad start.

For the 18th straight month, sales taxes have declined compared to the same month one year ago—and for the ninth straight month, the decline was in the double digits, at 18.4 percent. That’s largely driven by a continuing drop in construction taxes (off by 37 percent compared to July 2008) and car sales (off by 14 percent). But the bean-counters note that the cash for clunkers program might lift car sales in next month’s report.

Meanwhile, income taxes dropped 11.5 percent from July 2008 and were $29 million below the forecast for the month.

The good news: Lottery tickets sales were up by $4.1 million over July 2008. Guess people must really be feeling lucky out there.

Here's the report, for those wonks who want to study it: mfh-aug-09.pdf

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