Despite projections showing state revenues are expected to come up short of the budgeted amount by about $270 million, or 1.3 percent of the overall budget this year, state Rep. Paul Stam says the numbers don't represent a "revenue shortfall."
Stam, an Apex Republican, issued a statement Thursday highlighting that revenue projections presented by legislative staff last week show a $586.4 million revenue increase from the previous fiscal year. Factor in inflation and population growth, he argues, and the state's budget is holding steady.
"After controlling for population and inflation, we are likely to have just as much revenue in 2014-15 as we did in 2013-14," Stam said in the statement. "There is no revenue shortfall. There is a shortfall only of expectations on the part of those who want to grow state government."
Democrats have blamed the $270 million shortfall on Republican-led changes to the tax system. The state's forecast for the coming fiscal years estimates revenue growth will remain below 5 percent each year. "Quite often during an expansionary economy, revenue growth is well above 5 percent," last week's nonpartisan budget staff report notes.
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Legislative staffers said the discrepancy from this fiscal year's original forecast is due to lower-than-expected wage growth. Their report says the revenue picture could change when income tax returns are filed in April.
"The key underlying assumption is that due to tax code changes, April 15th tax filings will result in lower refunds and higher final payments by individual income taxpayers," the report says.