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Georgia officials report a 3.1% decrease in tax collections in October

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(The Center Square) — Georgia officials reported a 3.1% decrease in total General Fund receipts for October, which surpassed $2.6 billion.

The state reported more than $72.2 million in motor fuel taxes collected before a suspension took effect in September. Without those revenues, October’s net tax collections decreased by 5.7% or roughly $154.9 million from October 2022, when collections totaled more than $2.7 billion.

During the first four months of the fiscal year, revenue collections increased 4.2% or $428.6 million from last year. However, officials said that without motor fuel tax changes, revenues decreased by 2%.

Georgia officials may not report gas taxes for the foreseeable future. On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, issued an executive order extending a state of emergency and keeping a gas tax suspension in place.

Despite the slight downward turn in tax collections, the state is in a decent financial position thanks to an influx in federal money. A Georgia Budget & Policy Institute report shows Georgia had a $16 billion “surplus” at the end of fiscal 2023.

“We do have a large surplus, and we’re very fortunate,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones, a Republican, said during a Tuesday morning press briefing before the revenue figures were publicly released. “It goes to how fiscally responsible we’ve been as a state, as a legislative body and as well as our governor. Obviously, he’s led the charge on allowing us to have such a good surplus to work with.

“The whole legislative process, our one constitutional obligation is to balance the budget and figure out what is the best use for dollars,” Jones added. “There are some agencies that need a little more help from a personnel standpoint. The surplus money might be a good means to get there.”

The non-profit taxpayer advocacy group Truth in Accounting recently gave Georgia a “C” financial grade, ranking the state 23rd in the country for its fiscal health. According to the group’s “Financial State of the States 2023” report, Georgia had nearly $46.91 billion to pay bills totaling more than $46.92 billion.

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