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W.Va. revenue shortfall tops $50 million

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State revenue collections continued to sputter in November, increasing the likelihood budget officials will cut spending in the middle of the budget year.

The state has collected about $57 million less in taxes than it anticipated since the start of the budget year in July, Budget Director Mike McKown said Monday afternoon.

Typically released the first business day of each month, McKown said the entire monthly revenue report was not published Monday due to technical problems.

The shortfall could change once the final report is released. There's no question spending cuts are on the table though, McKown said.

"We're down $57 million after 5 months," McKown said. "I would say mid-year budget cuts are a strong possibility."

The state hasn't made any official decision on mid-year cuts, McKown said. A spokeswoman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin didn't respond to a request for comment about the revenue report.

Most of that shortfall is attributed to sluggish personal income tax collections. McKown said he expects those collections to fall about $37 million short of estimates.

That's nothing new: the state started the year almost $29 million in the hole for personal income tax collections, and that deficit continues to climb.

It still makes up the bulk of the total shortfall, Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said in an email. He attributed the shortfall to the state processing a large number of alternative fuel tax credit refunds in July.

The state passed legislation during the 2013 session to end the tax credit for alternative vehicles. Although the credit expired in April, carry over from personal tax filing extensions helped inflate the refund totals for July.

Muchow also cautioned the Thanksgiving holiday could have a negative effect on November collection totals.

The state is closed for business on Thanksgiving and the day after, meaning the month officially ended Nov. 27. That's a "very unfavorable day" for tax collections due at the end of the month, Muchow said.

He emphasized the state could still receive some November tax payments in early December.

The full November report should be released today, McKown said.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.


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