The Department of Revenue released its November revenue report yesterday showing an increased monthly collection of 2.7 percent from November 2008 and an above-benchmark monthly performance of $12 million. So far so good. But keep in mind that year-to-date tax collections are $369 million or 5.1 percent less than a year ago. So we're not of the woods by a long shot.
The quick takeaway from the November numbers is that the FY10 revenue estimate, revised downward by $600 million on October 15th to $18.279 billion, has held up during the months of October and November. How so?
Well, in those two months combined collections have run a modest $37 million above the revised benchmark. In reality, that's pretty close to projections and not much of a cushion with the big revenue months of December and January coming up.
On the other hand, coming close to benchmark, with a little on the plus side, may mean that after five successive downward revenue revisions going back to FY09 (the first coming in October 2008) the revenue forecasters may have accurately plumbed the bottom of the revenue plunge.
Given what we've seen the past year, there is some comfort in thinking that revenues have hit bottom and will start to slowly recover. But we won't know for sure until early in February, when the January numbers can be tallied with December to see how things stand going into prime tax collection season.
Also, keep in mind that even if revenues do start to tick upward, the budget gap for FY11 is still in the neighborhood of $3 billion.