CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A jump in income tax collections, along with a hiring freeze and spending cuts, is helping the state to close its budget gap.
The gap, which stood at $49 million at the end of March, now is about $13.9 million. That's the difference in predicted and actual revenues since the state budget year began last July 1.
Increases in income tax collections were the main driver, said Mark Muchow, deputy revenue secretary. The state collected $318.9 million in income taxes through the end of April, about $57.3 million more than expected.
The U.S. Congress can be thanked for the one-time surge. Federal lawmakers spent the end of last year trying to come up with a solution to the so-called "fiscal cliff," and many were worried Congress would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire.
That scared lots of businesses and investors into speeding up some long-term investments, selling off assets, paying bonuses and even shifting payroll schedules to fall under the 2012 tax schedule.
"Because of that we ran a surplus in April collections. The surplus greatly eliminated most of our deficit," Muchow said.
The state also is using funds from its income tax reserve to shore up its budget.
The state used $18.57 million from the reserve account to pay tax refunds, Muchow said.