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West Virginia’s 2019-20 budget shortfall has grown to over $33 million as October tax collection fell short of estimates.

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s 2019-20 budget shortfall has grown to $33.26 million as October tax collection of $354.09 million fell $3.47 million short of estimates, according to figures supplied by the Senate Finance Committee.

October marks the third month of the first four of the budget year that revenue collection has missed budget estimates.

The two main pillars of tax revenue were pointing in different directions for the month, with personal income tax collection of $149.06 million coming up $15.94 million short of estimates, while sales tax collection of $125.62 million topped estimates by $24.02 million.

Year-to-date income tax collection of $652.62 million are running $37.47 million below estimates, while year-to-date sales tax collection of $455.91 million is running $22.01 million ahead of estimates.

Severance tax collection, primarily from coal and natural gas, continues to be a drag on state revenue, even though October’s collection of $16.65 million topped estimates by $1.75 million.

However, that’s less than half of September’s collection of $33.91 million, and $8.17 million below the October 2018 collection of $24.85 million.

A year-to-date severance tax collection of $75.9 million is running $24.64 million behind estimates, and is $45.47 million behind collection of $121.37 million at the same point in 2018. That 37% decline has been blamed on plunging coal production and low prices for natural gas.

Severance tax deficits were cited as a key reason why Gov. Jim Justice is calling on state agencies to come up with $100 million in spending cuts, cutbacks announced last week by Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy.

Since June, the Senate Finance Committee has preemptively released monthly revenue figures, with staff analyzing data collected by the state Auditor’s Office. Traditionally, the monthly revenue reports have been released jointly by the Department of Revenue and the Budget Office.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.