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Idaho revenue misses April projection

Preliminary tax revenue data shows Idaho collections in the critical month of April fell more than $55 million below the target set by state budget writers, a shortfall due in part to higher-than-expected income tax refunds.

The unofficial data released May 3 means the state is facing a $13.5 million budget deficit heading into the final two months of fiscal 2010.

Revenue for April – always the biggest month for collecting taxes and fattening the state’s general fund – was $1.8 billion, about $55.5 million short of the 2010 budget goals set by state budget writers earlier this year.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter called the latest cash flow news disappointing, but no cause for panic. Otter has ruled out imposing another round of spending holdbacks on state agencies and is not considering calling lawmakers back to Boise to balance the $2.35 billion 2010 budget.

State Budget Chief Wayne Hammon said Otter instead will reach into rainy day accounts authorized by lawmakers and urge agency directors to look for savings until the fiscal year ends June 30.

“The governor does not envision calling a special session because he has the tools available to address the issue,” Hammon told The Associated Press.

The disappointing revenue news follows the positive developments from March, when tax revenue came in $15 million above projections for the first time in six months.

Like March, April also showed improvement in sales tax collections, a sign people are spending more on goods and services. Sales tax receipts generated $800 million in April, more than $2.6 million higher than projected for the month and $7.1 million for the year.

But the general fund took a hit in April because it dished out more money in tax refund checks than anticipated and corporate income taxes came in $11 million short of projections.

About The Associated Press