Treasurer: Year to date revenue collections in line with estimates

State revenue collections through August were just slightly higher than the predictions made by the state treasurer for the current year’s budget, according to numbers released by the state today.

Through August, the state had collected $1.944 billion, about $9.3 million over initial forecasts.

“For the second month in a row, revenue collections suggest that the resources available to the state are closely tracking figures certified by the Governor in the Appropriations Act for Fiscal 2012,” Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said in a release. “At present there is no data to support theories of revenue collections significantly beyond responsible estimates.”

Several revenue sources actually lagged estimates, including casino revenues, motor fuels tax collections, corporation business taxes, transfer and inheritance taxes, sales tax and lottery proceeds.

Casino revenues were off 17.5 percent owing in some part to Tropical Storm Irene, which forced the closure of the state’s casinos for only the third time.

But the lagging revenues were more than offset by a nearly 9 percent boost in gross income taxes, which came in more than $64 million over projections for the first two months of the year.

Controversy over revenue estimates took center stage in June after the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services projected revenues higher than those certified by the Christie Administration.  Gov. Chris Christie used the certified estimates provided by Sidamon-Eristoff in crafting his budget, but Democrats used the less conservative OLS numbers in creating their spending plan.

The two sides bickered over which estimates were more accurate, but ultimately the budget plan was created with the certified revenue figures.

Last month, the treasurer reported that July revenues were off nearly $35 million from initial forecasts, but in an internal memo, OLS budget chief David Rosen cautioned that those numbers may not present an accurate snapshot.

“It is premature to make any statement about fiscal year 2012 revenue trends,” Rosen said in the memo to members of the Senate and Assembly budget committees.

Rosen said in the past administrations have not reported July numbers because they could be skewed.

The debate is likely to continue next month as revenue collections will likely be down significantly owing to tax extensions given in the wake of Irene. Treasurer: Year to date revenue collections in line with estimates