CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Continually sluggish tax collections six months into the financial year are forcing state officials to again consider cuts or freezes to balance the budget.
"Clearly some remedial measures need to be taken in short order," state Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss said.
Although the budget report for December shows the state has received $81.5 million less than expected halfway through the budget year, Kiss and other officials say that's misleading.
The state missed out on roughly $15 million in collections received in time to meet the Dec. 31 deadline but not processed quickly enough, Kiss said.
"It's literally a several-hour issue," Kiss said.
Severance tax collections represent about $7.7 million of that total, Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow said. There's also another $5 million in personal income tax, $1.2 million in tobacco-related tax collection, close to $900,000 in corporate income taxes and $200,000 in sales taxes.
It's the second month in a row budget officials pointed to quirky scheduling problems to explain dropping collections. Muchow said the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November meant many businesses missed the tax deadline for the month.
"We were counting on that extra money in December," Muchow said.
Even with the extra money, the state is still more than $65 million behind anticipated collections. It's a significant problem, and it's going to take some changes to fix, Kiss said.
"There's not magic to this," Kiss said. "Many of these things have had to occur in prior years."
Kiss said the administration has a plan but declined to go into detail, referring comment to the office of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. A spokeswoman did not return a phone message.