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State revenues expected to grow by as much as $100M

Published October 16, 2012 5:13 pm

Utah's financial picture looking up across the board, analysts say.
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The Utah Legislature's budget forecasters are projecting state tax revenues will grow by $100 million in the coming year as the state continues to climb out of a deep recession.

Analysts projected solid job growth and an increase in wages and retail sales in the coming year. Andrea Wilko, chief economist with the Utah Legislative Fiscal Analyst's Office, told lawmakers that the Beehive State should recover all of the jobs lost during the recession by the middle of 2013.

"Our state indicators are coming in quite strong," Wilko said, although she cautioned against basing assumptions off the first few months of the fiscal year.

Still, Wilko told lawmakers that analysts were projecting that corporate and income taxes are expected to bring in an estimated $70 million more than was anticipated in May. Under Utah's Constitution, those funds are earmarked for public and higher education.

And increased sales tax, liquor sales and insurance premiums are now expected to add $30 million to the state's General Fund.

The new projection means that state tax revenues in the General and Education Funds are now expected to top $5 billion for the first time in five years — since before the economy collapsed.

The Transportation Fund, which collects mainly fuel taxes, is expected to be relatively flat in the coming year.

The housing market is also projected to turn the corner in the coming year after seven straight years of declines, including average home prices falling by nearly half in Washington County and dropping sharply in Juab and Utah counties, as well.

Prices are projected to grow by 1.3 percent through the end of this year and then by 2.3 percent in 2013.