West Virginia budget year on pace to end with surplus

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. - 6/6/2018 6:00 P.M.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia is on pace to have a budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Gov. Jim Justice says revenue collections exceeded estimates in May by $20.2 million.

Justice said at a news conference Wednesday that collections through the first 11 months of the fiscal year were $15.5 million higher than estimates. The year-to-date collections of nearly $3.83 billion were more than $124 million higher than the same period of a year ago.

Justice says that when he took office in January 2017, "the state was flat out bankrupt." He says "our prudent management of the state's finances continues to bear fruit and this is more great news for West Virginia."

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West Virginia tax officials say collections of nearly $560 million so far this fiscal year are 3.9 percent higher than last year.

However, August receipts of almost $307 million were lower than budget estimates.

Treasury Secretary Dave Hardy says the boost in collections is good news for the state two months into its new year.

He says severance taxes from production of coal, natural gas and oil are up 8 percent from the same two months last year, though lower than estimated in August.

That's attributed to a drop in natural gas prices, which are expected to rebound with cooler weather.

The West Virginia road fund's $69.2 million collected was higher than the estimate and last August's receipts from legislated increases in registration fees and gas taxes.

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