Budget Watch - General Revenue Forecast for FY 2016-17
With actual revenue collections exceeding expectations, the state General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference increased its forecast of GR in each of the five years in its outlook horizon. The estimates were increased for the current year (FY2015-16) by $287.3 million (1.0 percent), and by $175.0 million (0.6 percent) for the next budget year (FY2016-17). Total collections for FY2016-17 are now forecast at $29.581 billion, which represents growth of 4.7 percent over the current year.
These estimates are important because the amount appropriated by the Legislature cannot exceed the amount officially forecast to be collected in the fiscal year. GR is the money for which legislators have the most discretion; it can be spent on most anything in the state budget. GR is a major source of revenue for education, human services and public safety and corrections. When there is a discussion of a state budget shortfall or surplus, it is generally GR that is being considered.
In addition, actual GR collections during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 exceeded the estimate by $195.2 million (0.7 percent). This extra money already in state coffers, coupled with the new estimates, means that legislators will have $657.5 million more for the next state budget than was anticipated following the 2015 Special Session. To put it in another perspective, this additional revenue is enough to pay for the two-year GR impact of the 2015 Legislature’s tax cut package.