LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas ended the 2017 fiscal year with a $15.7 million surplus, state finance officials said Wednesday.
The state Department of Finance and Administration said net available general revenue collections from the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2016, to the end of fiscal year on Friday totaled $5.35 billion, which was down $19 million, or 0.4 percent, from the previous year but 0.5 percent above forecast and $15.7 million, or 0.3 percent, above the amount the governor and the Legislature budgeted for the year.
The agency released the revenue report five days after saying it was restoring $60 million of a $70 million budget cut that was announced in April. At the time of the cut, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and finance officials said revenues were lagging below projections, but DF&A said Friday that collections in major categories improved in the last two months of the fiscal year.
Hutchinson said in a statement Wednesday, “Our economy is strong and growing, and the most recent revenue report confirms that fact. From the revenue report, we can see that Arkansans are working hard and earning more. We can also see that consumer and business spending are stronger, which is a good sign both for our budgets and for the state’s economy.
Of the $60 million restored to the budget last week, $43 million was directed to the state’s Medicaid Trust Fund.
“The primary goal was replenishing the Medicaid Trust Fund, and adjusting the forecast was necessary to do that,” Hutchinson said Wednesday. “With uncertainty in Washington and the possible changes to Medicaid, it is an appropriate step to assure a strong foundation for the coming years.”
House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia said in an interview that “it’s obviously a great sign that all of the original projections are starting to kind of more come to fruition.”
“I think we’ve got to be real careful about running out and spending any surplus till we make sure these trends are more locked in,” he added.
In June, net available general revenues totaled $571.7 million, which was up $30 million, or 5.5 percent, from the previous June and $25.7 million, or 4.7 percent, above forecast.
Individual income tax collections last month totaled $276.8 million, which was up $6.6 million, or 2.4 percent, from June 2016 and 1.2 percent above forecast.
Corporate income tax collections in June totaled $68.8 million, which was down $16.2 million, or 19 percent, from a year ago but $4.6 million, or 7.2 percent, above forecast.
Sales tax collections last month totaled $202.8 million, which was up $7.9 million, or 4.1 percent, from June 2016 and $2.6 million, or 1.3 percent, above forecast.