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Senator Pat Browne

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Senate Appropriations Committee Report
May 2015

Committee Website

General Fund Collections $201 million, or 5.3%, above estimate for April 

General Fund revenue collections for the month ended April 2015 totaled $4.0 billion, which was $201 million, or 5.3%, above estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections total $25.7 billion, which is $569.1 million, or 2.3%, above estimate. Total FY 2014-15 General Fund revenues are $1.79 billion, or 7.5%, more than last year through April. April is the “annual payment” month for several corporation taxes and the personal income tax. It is also a “quarterly estimated tax payment” month for personal income taxes.      

Governor Wolf’s FY 2015-16 Budget adjusted the FY 2014-15 Official Revenue Estimate upward by only $4.1 million, and so the year-to-date revenue surplus of $569.1 million with two months remaining in the fiscal year will have a material impact on the Commonwealth’s balance sheet going forward. Gaming license fees and drilling revenue totaling $220 million are incorporated into June’s monthly revenue estimate, but we know that these revenues will not be realized this fiscal year. Therefore, the actual year-to-date surplus can be considered $349.1 million because these non-tax revenues will not be received in June as was originally expected in the Official Revenue Estimate.

The FY 2014-15 Budget included a provision to accelerate the holding period for unclaimed property (i.e. escheats), which was estimated to generate an additional $150 million in non-tax revenue for FY 2014-15. April is the largest month for reporting unclaimed property, and escheats revenues exceeded the monthly estimate by $184.2 million.  For the fiscal year-to-date, revenue from unclaimed property is $213.5 million, or 87.4%, ahead of the estimate.

Personal income tax (PIT) collections were above estimate by $21.1 million, or 1.0%, for the month. Employers’ withholding was below estimate for the month by $698,492, or 0.1%. Year-to-date employers’ withholding tax collections are running $1.2 million below estimate for the year but are 3.8% stronger than last year at this time.

PIT annual tax payments received from 2014 tax returns in April 2015 were ahead of estimate by $7 million, or 0.8%. April 2015 annual tax payments were projected to grow by 20% over last year, when federal tax changes negatively impacted many states’ personal income tax collections. There was some question as to whether Pennsylvania’s PIT annual payments would rebound so sharply, but the 21.1% growth over last year in April is a welcome result.

Quarterly estimated PIT payments were $14.7 million, or 5.4%, over estimate for the month, and they are 3.4% above estimate for the fiscal year. Quarterly estimated PIT payments for the 2015 tax year are due again in June, and so hopefully these payments will continue to outperform the estimate.

Corporation taxes were below estimate for the month by $20.4 million, or 4.4%. Weakness was most evident in Corporate Net Income Tax (CNI) quarterly payments, which were $27.6 million below estimate for April. June is the next month for large corporation tax payments with the second installment of the 2015 CNI and Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) quarterly payments being due. Based on the recent performance of quarterly payments in March and April, it does not appear that June’s corporation tax collections will be particularly strong.

Sales and use tax collections (SUT) were above estimate by $10.9 million, or 1.3%, for the month. General sales and use tax accounted for the entire monthly overage at $12.8 million above estimate, while sales tax on motor vehicles was below estimate by $1.9 million. Total sales and use tax for April 2015 grew by 3.9% over April 2014 collections.

SUT collections for FY 2014-15 are 4.5% ahead of last fiscal year and  are $53.6 million, or 0.7%, above estimate for the fiscal year.

Realty transfer tax (RTT) collections were $4.6 million, or 12.3%, below estimate for the month. RTT collections are $30.8 million, or 8.4%, below estimate for the year.

Inheritance tax collections were $9.8 million ahead of estimate for the month, and they are now $72 million, or 9.5%, over estimate for the year.

Cigarette tax revenues were $2.5 million, or 3.3%, above estimate for the month. Liquor tax beat the estimate by $855,326, and table games tax collections were $531,906 above estimate.

General Fund non-tax revenue contributed significantly to the monthly overage in revenue collections. Non-tax revenue was above estimate by $189.5 million, or 73.9%, led by the strong performance in unclaimed property revenue as discussed above.

Robust April collections have increased the net year-to-date surplus to $349 million (actual surplus of $569 million less $220 million in revenues that won’t be received in June). The Independent Fiscal Office’s May 4th forecast indicates that the June 30 General Fund revenue surplus will be approximately $370 million. While this helps to mitigate the structural deficit, we still have not received the Administration’s spring update. The spring update is a document that adjusts the Governor’s appropriation request for Human Services line items as well as other cost drivers based on updated information such as caseload and expenditure trends. Anecdotal reports indicate that the spring update may be significant and have the potential to offset the positive impact of the revenue surplus on the General Fund Financial statement. 

Early Childhood Education 

The Commonwealth’s early childhood education programs provide opportunities for pre-school aged children to develop and learn to their fullest potential. The Commonwealth has developed and implemented high standards for both programs and professionals and provides support to meet and maintain those standards. 

Keystone Stars (Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources) is a program to  support the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania. The STARS performance standards provide a foundation for the program and are grouped into four levels. Each level builds on the previous level and utilizes research-based and best practices to promote quality early learning environments and positive child learning outcomes. The levels are based on quality standards that measure staff education, classroom/learning environment, including families and the community, and leadership and management. Financial assistance is available to families in certain income levels through a subsidized component of the program.


Contact Senator Browne:

On the Web:

702 W. Hamilton Street
Suite 101
Allentown 18101
Toll-Free: 1-800-280-7728
FAX: 610-821-6798
9 AM to 5 PM

281 Main Capitol
Harrisburg 17120
FAX: 717-772-3458
TTY: 800-364-1581
9 AM to 4:30 PM

Western Lehigh County
Upper Macungie Township Building
8330 Schantz Road
Breinigsville 18031
FAX: 610-366-2329
By Appointment Only

Northern Lehigh County
North Whitehall Township Building
3256 Levans Road
Coplay, PA 18037
FAX: 610-769-5568
By Appointment Only





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