Senator Pat Browne E-Newsletter

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Senate Appropriations Committee Report

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General Fund Surplus Shrinks 

 General Fund revenue collections for the month of January were below the estimate by $113.7 million.  General Fund tax revenues were $120.2 million lower than the monthly estimate, but non-tax revenue was $6.5 million above the estimate.  General Fund revenue collections thus far this fiscal year are $290 million ahead of estimate.

Final individual estimated personal income tax payments for the 2018 tax year, which were due January 15th, were $119.4 million below estimate for the month, making up the lion’s share of the monthly shortfall.  It is too early to know for sure, but the weakness in this subset of PIT payments was likely a combination of there being unused overpayments resulting from last year’s rush to make significant state and local tax payments ahead of changes in federal tax law and a drop-off in the stock market at the end of the year. 

 January 2019 General Fund Revenue vs. Monthly Estimate:

  • General Fund revenue collections of $2.88 billion were below the monthly estimate by $113.7 million, or 3.8%.
  • General Fund tax revenues were below estimate by $120.2 million, or 4.0%.
  • Corporation taxes were $6.8 million, or 5.0%, above the estimate.
  • Sales and use tax collections beat the estimate by $37.2 million, or 3.9%, for the month.
  • Personal income tax collections were below estimate by $146.3 million, or 9.0%.
  • Non-tax revenues exceeded the estimate by $6.5 million.

Fiscal Year 2018-19 vs. the Official Revenue Estimate To-Date:

  • Total General Fund revenues are $290 million, or 1.6%, higher than the Official Revenue Estimate through the month of January.
  • General Fund tax revenue is $132.5 million, or 0.8%, above estimate.
  • Corporation taxes are $301.4 million, or 20.1%, above the estimate.
  • Sales and use taxes are $200.4 million, or 3.1%, above the estimate.
    • General SUT collections are $141.7 million, or 2.5%, above estimate.
    • SUT collections on motor vehicle sales are $58.7 million, or 7.2%, higher than the estimate.
  • Personal income tax collections are short of the estimate by $349.7 million, or 4.5%.
    • Withheld PIT is $68.3 million, or 1.1%, below the estimate.
    • Non-withheld PIT (annual & estimated payments) is $281.4 million, or 17.7%, short of estimate.
  • Non-tax revenues are $157.5 million, or 72.6%, higher than the estimate.

Fiscal Year 2018-19 vs. Fiscal Year 2017-18:

  • Total General Fund revenues through January are $787.3 million, or 4.5%, higher than last year at this time.
  • General Fund tax revenue is $957.1 million, or 5.7%, higher than last year.
  • Corporation taxes are $359.8 million, or 25.0%, higher.
  • Sales and use tax collections are $504.4 million, or 8.2%, higher than last year through January.
  • Personal income tax collections exceed last year’s collections by $63.7 million, or 0.9%.
  • Non-tax revenues are $169.8 million, or 31.2%, less than last fiscal year through January.

Motor License Fund:

  • Motor License Fund revenues are below the estimate by $56.8 million, or 3.5%, through January.
  • Motor License Fund revenues are $120.2 million, or 7.1%, less than last fiscal year at this time.

Game Fund Review 

With a majority of hunting seasons in Pennsylvania now concluded, it seems appropriate to take a look at the revenues generated to support the Game Fund (fund) and the work done by the Game Commission (commission).  The main revenue categories include license fees paid by hunters, the sale of resources from game lands including oil and gas drilling leases and timber sales, the federal government via the Pittman-Robertson distributions, and fines and penalties. 

The end of January signals the end of the most popular and highest revenue generating seasons of whitetail deer, bear and elk seasons, and a majority of the license revenue has been collected, giving the commission an estimate on how the fund’s financial picture will look for the year.  An area of concern for the commission is the continuing decrease in revenue generated by the resident deer hunting license.  While doe, archery and nonresident license revenues have remained relatively stable over the past few years, the same can’t be said for resident licenses, which continue to decline.  One area that has helped stabilize the fund has been the rebound in drilling activity and the revenues generated from leases on commission land.  Royalty revenues are on pace in fiscal year 2018 to again exceed prior year revenues.

Among the initiatives the commission undertakes, is communicating the importance of identifying and preventing the devastation brought by Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in our whitetail deer population.  CWD has affected populations in 25 other states and three Canadian provinces and was detected in

Pennsylvania in 2012.  With three disease management areas in the state the commission continues to test throughout the state, and attempt to manage where it exists.

The commission was fortunate enough to add 4,299 acres during the 2017-18 fiscal year to the already over 1.5 million acres under management.

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