- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas officials Wednesday revised the state’s general revenue forecast for the current fiscal year, predicting a 2.1 percentage point increase over the previous forecast.

Department of Finance and Administration officials presented the revised forecast to the legislative Joint Committee on Economic and Tax Policy. The forecast predicts a net revenue increase for the 2015 fiscal year ending June 30 of about $129 million, or 2.6 percent over fiscal year 2014 revenues.

The previous forecast, issued in November, predicted an increase of about $24.6 million, or 0.5 percent above fiscal 2014.

DFA Director Larry Walther also projected a decrease in net revenue from previous estimates for fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 because of tax cuts passed by the last two General Assemblies being gradually implemented during those years. Those cuts include about $100 million in middle class income tax cuts championed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson who took office in January.

DFA officials project net revenues of more than $5.15 billion by the end of June, which would “fully fund the budget.” Walther said previous projections of about $92 million in surplus are likely to increase because of a surge in tax collections in nearly every major category in April that put the state almost $164 million above its revenue forecast.

“We’re analyzing those payments and the other factors to determine how that will impact the surplus at the end of this fiscal year and how it will impact future fiscal years, but we do not know the answer to that at this point,” he said.

Walther told the committee that the revised projections for fiscal 2016, which starts July 1, show a revenue increase of 0.7 percent- down from the previously projected 3.2 percent increase. Fiscal 2017 projections decreased to a 2.6 percent growth from the previously projected 4.6 percent increase.

“Even considering the, in my opinion, minuscule tax cuts that we have implemented, we are still looking like we are fiscally sound and are going to have excess revenues,” said state Senator Bart Hester, a Cave Springs Republican.

DFA officials said they expect fiscal 2016’s revenues to fund all but about $4.2 million of the state’s lowest budget category, which includes additional money for school facilities and transportation.

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