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A combination of a spike in energy prices and the benefit of lowered expectations helped state tax collections exceed estimates by $38.75 million — or 11% — in October.

Total revenue collections for the month of $381.78 million exceeded estimates of $343.03 million. However, the October revenue estimate was $12.76 million less than actual October 2020 collections of $355.79 million.

Gov. Jim Justice took time to go off-topic at the state COVID-19 briefing Monday, Nov. 1, to talk about the revenue report.

“For God’s sake alivin’, isn’t that the greatest news in the history of all time?” he asked. “Really and truly, the state’s doing really good.”

Justice suggested the series of ongoing monthly revenue surpluses are the result of keeping state spending in check.

“We’ve managed to not grow our spending. We’ve managed to push the right buttons,” he said.

Actually, the 2021-22 state general revenue budget of $4.495 billion is $79 million less than the 2020-21 budget, and $141 million less than the 2019-20 general revenue budget of $4.636 billion.

Justice said of the series of monthly tax revenue surpluses, “It’s a broken record beyond belief of so much goodness.”

In the first four months of the 2021-22 budget year, the state has collected a total of $1.575 billion — $181.41 million above estimates, but about $20 million less than year-to-date revenue collections of $1.595 billion at the same point in 2020, primarily because the 2020 state income tax filing deadline was pushed back from April 15 to July 15 because of the pandemic.

The two main pillars of state tax collections, income taxes and sales taxes outperformed estimates and October 2020 collections, coming in at $172.35 million and $114.1 million, respectively.

Severance taxes, benefiting from higher natural gas and coal prices that energy analysts credit to a temporary worldwide surge in energy demand, continued to outperform estimates in October, bringing in $19.46 million, up 84% from October 2020 collections of $10.57 million.

However, that’s down from September severance tax collections of $47.47 million, which were up 256% from September 2020 collections of $18.57 million. September 2021 marked the first time that monthly severance tax collections topped $47 million since June 2015.

Justice did not discuss the affect the infusion of billions of dollars of federal pandemic stimulus funds into the state through the CARES Act and the American Recovery Act have had on state tax collections.

Phil Kabler covers politics. He

can be reached at 304-348-1220

or philk@hdmediallc.com.

Follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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