Revenue up, Beebe lifts pay freeze | Arkansas Blog

Revenue up, Beebe lifts pay freeze

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The state report on tax income in November isn't readily comparable with the same month a year ago, because of some one-time occurrences, but this jumps out:

Among the two dominant collection categories that correlate with economic conditions, sales tax (gross receipts) was slightly over forecast with 8.3 percent year-over-year growth and income tax withholding was down slightly due to variance caused by payroll timing shift reflected this month. Smaller collection categories were mostly above forecast.

Remember Dillard's reported an 8 percent same-store November jump earlier today.

Here's the full state report.

UPDATE: Gov. Beebe likes the numbers in the first five months of the budget year. He's lifted a freeze on state employee cost-of-living pay increases and opened the door to merit increases. Release on jump. Still waiting for a response on the health prgrams that got nothing from the tobacco tax increase.

PS — Some have raised questions because others' headlines cast the monthly report as a dip in revenue. I don't think that's a good reading of the overall picture. Net and gross revenue for the year is ahead of last year and ahead of forecast. The November figure isn't comparable to last year because of a one-time collection last year. On balance, the report continues to reflect improvement, thus Beebe's citation of five-month performance in lifting the freeze on state pay raises (which are in the budget pegged to the forecast).

UPDATE II: The Beebe announcement was followed by word later in the day that pay freezes at college campuses had also been lifted. Many employees will get pay raises retroactive to July 1.

BEEBE NEWS RELEASE

After reviewing state revenues for the first five months of Fiscal Year 2011, Governor Mike Beebe has directed the Department of Finance and Administration to reinstate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), career-service recognitions and merit pay for Arkansas state employees.

"Going into this current budget, we froze state salaries out of an abundance of caution to see how our economy would recover," Governor Beebe said. "After seeing the strength of our economic indicators and remaining ahead of forecast for the year so far, I've decided to reinstate the COLA for our employees."

The COLAs are already built into the current budget and will not impact the funding of any state services or require any budget increases. Career-service recognitions and merit pay are funded through salary savings within existing agency budgets.

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