After months of lagging tax collections, Minnesota revenues beat expectations in final quarter

  • Article by: JEFF BAENEN , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 8:54 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — State tax collections beat expectations for the final three months of the fiscal year, and Minnesota is now expected to finish the fiscal year with $168 million more in revenues than projected in February, state finance officials said Thursday.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who is running for re-election, took credit for the gain while Republicans downplayed its significance.

According to the quarterly update, state revenues for April, May and June were $235 million more than forecast. That followed a few months of disappointing figures.

Minnesota Management and Budget said the state raised $181 million more in individual income taxes than expected during the quarter. Most of that was because Minnesotans paid more in 2013 income taxes than expected, and tax refunds were below estimates.

Sales tax revenues also exceeded forecasts. While corporate tax collections were $53 million less than expected, officials say big swings in corporate taxes are not unusual.

The update will undoubtedly factor into the governor's race. Republicans contend the economy is sputtering while Dayton has tried to present a more-upbeat picture.

"Although these updates fluctuate month-to-month, today's release serves as a reminder about the significantly improved fiscal position of the state since Governor Dayton took office," Dayton's office said in a statement Thursday.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, called the report "another positive sign that Minnesota continues to move in the right direction."

"More jobs are being created, businesses are expanding, and our budget is balanced into the future," Thissen said in a news release.

House GOP Leader Kurt Daudt of Crown accused Dayton and Democrats of trying to distract Minnesotans from other issues such as the federal health care overhaul or a planned new government office building for state senators that opponents view as wasteful.

"The reality is: Governor Dayton and Democrats continue to put themselves and their extreme special interests before the best interests of hardworking Minnesotans," Daudt said in a statement.

Minnesota's tax collections for the fiscal year are now estimated to total $19.25 billion, or $168 million more than projected in the February forecast. The state's fiscal year ended June 30 and will officially close on Aug. 15.

Minnesota's tax collections had been below expectations for the past four months. But officials always stress caution in interpreting the monthly figures because they don't account for changes in state spending patterns or quirks in timing of tax payments.

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