ATLANTA -- An improving economy pushed Georgia tax collections up 13 percent in April, Gov. Nathan Deal’s office announced Wednesday.
He let the news slip a day earlier when he signed the $19.9 billion budget into law in his Capitol office before a dozen reporters. He was asked if future budgets would include the 3-percent cuts most agencies are getting in next year’s spending plan.
He said, “I have never been one to subscribe to the terms ‘this is the new normal,’” mentioning the 13-percent boost in the previous month’s collections.
“I’ve always said, the greatest challenge to governance is the challenge to restrain yourselves in the good times. In the hard times, restraint is a matter of necessity. In the good times, it’s a matter of discipline,” Deal said. “As we hopefully move into the good times, all of us have agreed that that is the challenge that leadership faces. It is too often tempting to say, ‘Well, we have a whole lot more money than we did last year, so let me tell you about all the good ideas I have to spend it.’”
The new budget hikes spending by 4.6 percent, nearly all of the increase going to meet obligations for healthcare and education due to inflation and growing enrollment. It takes effect July 1.
The current fiscal year is seeing tax collections rise 6.1 percent so far, a positive trend for the government but not high enough to avoid the agency cuts.
April’s increased collections resulted mostly from a 26-percent jump in individual income taxes, reflecting rising wages and increased employment compared to the past year. Corporate income taxes also rose during the month compared to April 2012, including a 44 percent spike in estimated payments.
One notable decrease was in the area of sales taxes, but that is because recent law changes replaced the tax on automobile purchases with a one-time title fee.