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Senate Appropriations Committee Report
General Fund Collections $201 million, or 5.3%, above estimate for
General Fund revenue collections for the month ended April
2015 totaled $4.0 billion, which was $201 million, or 5.3%, above estimate.
Fiscal year-to-date collections total $25.7 billion, which is $569.1 million, or
2.3%, above estimate. Total FY 2014-15 General Fund revenues are $1.79 billion,
or 7.5%, more than last year through April. April is the “annual payment” month
for several corporation taxes and the personal income tax. It is also a
“quarterly estimated tax payment” month for personal income taxes.
Governor Wolf’s FY 2015-16 Budget adjusted the FY 2014-15
Official Revenue Estimate upward by only $4.1 million, and so the year-to-date
revenue surplus of $569.1 million with two months remaining in the fiscal year
will have a material impact on the Commonwealth’s balance sheet going forward.
Gaming license fees and drilling revenue totaling $220 million are incorporated
into June’s monthly revenue estimate, but we know that these revenues will not
be realized this fiscal year. Therefore, the actual year-to-date surplus can be
considered $349.1 million because these non-tax revenues will not be received in
June as was originally expected in the Official Revenue Estimate.
The FY 2014-15 Budget included a provision to accelerate
the holding period for unclaimed property (i.e. escheats), which was estimated
to generate an additional $150 million in non-tax revenue for FY 2014-15. April
is the largest month for reporting unclaimed property, and escheats revenues
exceeded the monthly estimate by $184.2 million. For the fiscal year-to-date,
revenue from unclaimed property is $213.5 million, or 87.4%, ahead of the
Personal income tax (PIT) collections were above estimate
by $21.1 million, or 1.0%, for the month. Employers’ withholding was below
estimate for the month by $698,492, or 0.1%. Year-to-date employers’ withholding
tax collections are running $1.2 million below estimate for the year but are
3.8% stronger than last year at this time.
PIT annual tax payments received from 2014 tax returns in
April 2015 were ahead of estimate by $7 million, or 0.8%. April 2015 annual tax
payments were projected to grow by 20% over last year, when federal tax changes
negatively impacted many states’ personal income tax collections. There was some
question as to whether Pennsylvania’s PIT annual payments would rebound so
sharply, but the 21.1% growth over last year in April is a welcome result.
Quarterly estimated PIT payments were $14.7 million, or
5.4%, over estimate for the month, and they are 3.4% above estimate for the
fiscal year. Quarterly estimated PIT payments for the 2015 tax year are due
again in June, and so hopefully these payments will continue to outperform the
Corporation taxes were below estimate for the month by
$20.4 million, or 4.4%. Weakness was most evident in Corporate Net Income Tax (CNI)
quarterly payments, which were $27.6 million below estimate for April. June is
the next month for large corporation tax payments with the second installment of
the 2015 CNI and Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) quarterly payments being
due. Based on the recent performance of quarterly payments in March and April,
it does not appear that June’s corporation tax collections will be particularly
Sales and use tax collections (SUT) were above estimate by
$10.9 million, or 1.3%, for the month. General sales and use tax accounted for
the entire monthly overage at $12.8 million above estimate, while sales tax on
motor vehicles was below estimate by $1.9 million. Total sales and use tax for
April 2015 grew by 3.9% over April 2014 collections.
SUT collections for FY 2014-15 are 4.5% ahead of last
fiscal year and are $53.6 million, or 0.7%, above estimate for the fiscal year.
Realty transfer tax (RTT) collections were $4.6 million, or
12.3%, below estimate for the month. RTT collections are $30.8 million, or 8.4%,
below estimate for the year.
Inheritance tax collections were $9.8 million ahead of
estimate for the month, and they are now $72 million, or 9.5%, over estimate for
Cigarette tax revenues were $2.5 million, or 3.3%, above
estimate for the month. Liquor tax beat the estimate by $855,326, and table
games tax collections were $531,906 above estimate.
General Fund non-tax revenue contributed significantly to
the monthly overage in revenue collections. Non-tax revenue was above estimate
by $189.5 million, or 73.9%, led by the strong performance in unclaimed property
revenue as discussed above.
Robust April collections have increased the net
year-to-date surplus to $349 million (actual surplus of $569 million less $220
million in revenues that won’t be received in June). The Independent Fiscal
Office’s May 4th forecast indicates that the June 30 General Fund revenue
surplus will be approximately $370 million. While this helps to mitigate the
structural deficit, we still have not received the Administration’s spring
update. The spring update is a document that adjusts the Governor’s
appropriation request for Human Services line items as well as other cost
drivers based on updated information such as caseload and expenditure trends.
Anecdotal reports indicate that the spring update may be significant and have
the potential to offset the positive impact of the revenue surplus on the
General Fund Financial statement.
Early Childhood Education
The Commonwealth’s early childhood education programs
provide opportunities for pre-school aged children to develop and learn to their
fullest potential. The Commonwealth has developed and implemented high standards
for both programs and professionals and provides support to meet and maintain
Keystone Stars (Standards, Training/Professional
Development, Assistance, Resources) is a program to support the continuous
quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania. The
STARS performance standards provide a foundation for the program and are grouped
into four levels. Each level builds on the previous level and utilizes
research-based and best practices to promote quality early learning environments
and positive child learning outcomes. The levels are based on quality standards
that measure staff education, classroom/learning environment, including families
and the community, and leadership and management. Financial assistance is
available to families in certain income levels through a subsidized component of
Contact Senator Browne:
On the Web:
702 W. Hamilton Street
9 AM to 5 PM
281 Main Capitol
9 AM to 4:30 PM
Western Lehigh County
Upper Macungie Township Building
8330 Schantz Road
By Appointment Only
Northern Lehigh County
North Whitehall Township Building
3256 Levans Road
Coplay, PA 18037
By Appointment Only