WASHINGTON -- Virginia's revenue collections have run ahead of projections through April, but Finance Secretary Paul W. Timmreck said the trend will probably not continue long enough for the state to end fiscal 1992 with a surplus.
Revenue for the first 10 months of the fiscal year showed a 3.7% increase, compared with a forecast of 2%. "I would caution you not to read into that figure that we're going to end the fiscal year with a major surplus," Mr. Timmreck said.
He said last year's spurt in revenue collections was most likely a one-time phenomenon, adding that figures of May and June should show lower growth, Mr. Timmreck said.
Nevertheless, he added, Virginia should finish the year in line with the state's forecast of 2% revenue growth. Through April, the state had collected 78.9% of the revenues projected for fiscal 1992, which ends June 30.
Among major components of the state's total revenues, income and corporate tax collections through April were higher than forecast, while sales and insurance premium taxes lagged.
Net individual income tax receipts in April 1992 totaled $243 million, 15% higher than April 1991, when the state collected $211.4 million. The April collection brought growth in year-to-date receipts to 4.3%, as compared with a forecast of 2.4%.
Growth in withholding helped spur the increase in individual income tax receipts. Withholding, the money taken directly from workers' pay, was 10.4% higher in April 1992 than in April 1991. The increase brought fiscal year-to-date growth to 5.1%. The official forecast for the year is growth of 3.4%.
Corporate income tax collections in April totaled $80.4 million, $10 million less than in April 1991. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, collections showed a negative growth of 3%, somewhat better than the 6.2% decline officials had forecast.
Sales tax receipts, however, continued to sag. Collections for April were 2.9% below receipts in April 1991, bringing fiscal year-to-date growth to 0.2%. State officials had forecast growth of 0.7%. Consequently, Virginia must post a 2.8% increase over the last year's combined May and June receipts in order to meet the forecast.
State officials said a late Easter holiday was one reason for the weak sales-tax figures. Easter fell in April this year, but was celebrated in March last year.
Employment levels continued to be a concern for state officials, despite the fact that the state unemployment rate dropped in March to 6.8% from a nine-year high of 7.3% in February.
"It's been a tough time," Mr. Timmreck said. "We've lost 100,000 jobs." He said officials believe employment is one of the last things to turn around in a recession, adding that he would like to see several more months of improvement before breathing easier.
Mr. Timmreck attributed most of the improvement in March employment figures to seasonal factors especially the traditional spring start-up of tourism-related activities. Total nonagricultural employment increased by 8,600 jobs during March, but was still 0.5% below figures for March 1991.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Labor yesterday reported that initial state unemployment insurance claims fell 1,723 in Virginia during the week ended May 23. The decrease was attributed to fewer layoffs in the service and textile industries.
In the week ended May 16, Virginia had an increase of 1,256 in initial claims, which had been attributed to layoffs in the textiles and food processing industries.
On the spending front, Mr. Timmreck said, "We're just hunkering down."