Bloomberg is reporting State Revenue Falls Most Since 1963 on Incomes, Sales.

U.S. state tax collections tumbled the most in almost half a century in the second quarter as the economic recession curbed levies on incomes and sales.

The 16.6 percent plunge was the biggest since at least 1963, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government said today. For the 12 months to June 30, the fiscal year for most states, revenue declined 8.2 percent, or $63 billion, about twice what states got from the $787 billion U.S. economic stimulus package, the institute said.

State revenue has dwindled for two straight quarters and continued to decline in July and August, the Albany-based research organization said. Budgets for the year that began July 1 already face $26 billion of deficits, the Washington, D.C.- based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Aug. 12, forcing state lawmakers to confront additional spending cuts.

“We’re looking at a multiyear problem hitting essentially every state,” Robert Ward, the institute’s deputy director, told reporters. “It has happened during recessions before, but the depth of this decline is unprecedented in modern times.”

Collections dropped in 49 states in the second quarter as sales and personal-income taxes slid for the third consecutive period, the institute said. Income tax was down 27.5 percent and sales tax fell down 9.5 percent, its study said. Both categories fell by the most in 45 years.

States are anticipating more cuts to current-year budgets, already pared once to bring them into balance. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told managers on Oct. 13 to cut spending 5 percent because tax collections in the first three months of fiscal 2010 were 7.7 percent below estimates. Florida Governor Charlie Crist told department heads on Oct. 12 not to request more money for next year, when the state faces a $2.6 billion deficit.

“It’s clear that when governors propose their budgets in January, the vast preponderance will be looking for more spending cuts and tax increases,” Boyd said.

Alaska’s tax income declined the most of any state, the study said, with an 86.5 percent drop because of lower oil prices. Vermont fared the best, with a 2.2 percent gain because of a one-time estate-tax settlement.

Raising taxes will put the burden on small businesses who will respond by not hiring. Raise taxes enough and corporations will play Musical Chairs.

When governments compete with private enterprise for funds, the government always wins. Everyone else but the direct recipients of the handouts loses.

Unfortunately raising taxes rather than cutting government waste is the solution selected by this administration and it will likely be the solution selected by various state governments as well.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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