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By Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville

APRIL REVENUES "BEST MONTH EVER?"

Just in the nick of time, state revenues took a decided jump and the gain of $559 million for the month of April will go down as the best single month increase in total dollars in state history.

With this increase of 24.2 %, the state is now meeting the 2019 budget forecast and is about $150 million ahead of budget for this fiscal year.

INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAXES FINALLY INCREASE

With an increase of $454.6 million, Individual Income Taxes set new records this month. Refunds declined by $40 million and the largest increase came in Individual Income Tax Return payments which totaled $307.2 million. Individual Withholding payments were up $70.7 million and all other categories were up $36.7 million. Corporate Income Taxes were up $69.2 million.

SALES TAXES CONTINUE STEADY

Net Sales Taxes Increased 5.6% or $30.5 million. The Tag, Title and Fees category was up 6.1% but Title Ad Valorem Taxes were negative at -3.6%. Alcohol and Tobacco Taxes were both negative at -4.5% and -9.8% respectively.

FUEL TAXES/FEES FLAT

The total of Fuel Taxes and fees along with Impact Fees and Hotel/motel fees was almost even decreasing slightly -$45,000 on revenues of $176.8 million.

YEAR TO DATE REVENUES IMPROVING

With April's booming month, state revenues picked up considerably Year To Date. At $19.9 billion total revenues, the state is showing a YTD gain of $939.7 million and the growth rate is back up to 5.0 %

Individual Income Taxes are finally positive, up 4.4% and Sales Taxes YTD are at 5.7%. Corporate Income Taxes continue to encourage at 28.3% gaining $ 221.2 million.

Tag, Title and Fees are up slightly at 0.4%, but Title Ad Valorem Taxes are negative YTD -5.6%

Total Fuel Taxes and Fees, Impact fees and Hotel/Motel Fees were up only slightly YTD gaining $36.5 million or 2.2%.

HIGHER EDUCATION LEGISLATION

There is usually not a lot of legislation affecting post-secondary education each Session. There was a good bit of discussion about Dual Enrollment and its rapidly increasing costs, but no legislation passed and the budget was passed which does not meet projections. So, The Student Finance Authority announced last week a change eliminating fund payout of funds for books for students dual enrolled in high school and college or technical school. A future column will touch on these administrative changes.

--HB 218-- Would extend the time period students are eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship to 10 years from a student's graduation from high school. An exception is made for students who serve in the military during that 10 year period.

--HB 339-- Would create a specialty license plate for Alabama A&M University and proceeds would go to the Alumni Association for scholarships. HB 339 also creates a specialty Tag for the Georgia Aquarium and funds raised would go to Georgia Aquarium, Inc. Additionally, HB 339 creates a specialty tag promoting Autism Awareness. Funds from the sale would go to the Autism Alliance of Georgia. And lastly, a specialty tag is created for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and proceeds go to the Ivy Community Foundation Inc.

--SB 214-- Contained language from SB 92 which prohibited professional licensing boards for revoking, suspending or denying a person's license for defaulting on a student loan. Applies to both loans through the Ga. Higher Education Assistance Corp. or the federal government. The bill also makes some changes to the cosmetologist and barber regulations and Division of Electrical Contractors for education training.

--SR 464-- A resolution creating the Senate Higher Education Outcomes Study Committee

APPROPRIATIONS AFFECTING HIGHER EDUCATION

--$1 million to establish funding for Early HOPE program through Dual Enrollment

--$65.9 million in Lottery funds to increase HOPE award by 3% and meet the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarship demand, including a transfer of $41.6 million from HOPE Grant for both scholarships

--$86.2 million to Board of Regents for enrollment growth, medical education and square footage at USG institutions.

--$6.8 million for USG employer share of health insurance and retiree health benefits.

--$10.8 million in lottery funds to increase the award amount of HOPE scholarships in private colleges and increase TO the Zell Miller Scholarship from $2308 to $2808 at private colleges

-- $262,560,000 in Bonds for Board of Regents Institutions for construction, equipment and renovations

--$3.0 million to the Technical College System for credit hours and square footage

--$348,000 to TCSG for three Aviation Maintenance Technician program instructors

-- $126,785,000 in Bonds to TCSG institutions for construction, equipment and renovations at TCSG institutions

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