While general revenue collections are on the rise in Missouri, the state's budget numbers would not look as good without a drop in refunds.
"A lot of our growth is due to refunds being down," Missouri Budget Director Linda Leubbering told Missouri Journal minutes after the latest numbers were released on Friday. "I'm very cautious about these numbers."
Net general revenue collections increased 2 percent to $2.84 billion for 2012 fiscal year-to-date, staring July 1 and ending Nov. 30, compared to $2.78 billion last year.
Refunds, meanwhile, fell 10.1 percent from $313 million last year to $281.5 million this year.
Sales tax collections increased 3.4 percent from $750.4 million to $776.2 million this fiscal year.
It is too early to see if shoppers on Black Friday helped boost November's revenue collection numbers, Luebbering said. Revenue from sales tax collections usually start to arrive in December.
Corporate income and franchise tax collections decreased 10.7 percent to $144.8 million this year. Noting the franchise tax will soon be phased out, Luebbering said this segment will continue to fall.
"Corporate continues to be the drag," Luebbering said.
To hit budget estimates, revenue collections need to increase by 3 percent for the fiscal year, ending June 30. Therefore, Luebbering said the state will need to see growth of more than 3 percent.
As Missouri Journal reported last month, the state is on track to reduce total spending by 0.14 percent this fiscal year, which will be only the third time in 30 years total spending has dropped.
The consensus revenue estimate for next fiscal year is expected to be released in late December or early January. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will then present his budget recommendations in January.