Tax surpluses for many states

Governors attending the National Governors Association 2012 Winter Meeting listen to Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, discuss the importance of state economies. Amid gloomy reports of government budget deficits, there was some good news at this meeting in Washington.

David Brancaccio: At their winter meeting in Washington D.C., this weekend, many of the nation's governors were dealing with an unusual (but not unwelcome) problem: how to spend some extra money. Several states have surpluses.

Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports from Washington.


John Dimsdale: States point to different reasons for healthier tax collections. North Dakota and Oklahoma are reaping an energy windfall. Michigan is in the midst of a manufacturing turnaround. And then there are states riding a boom in the stock market.

Scott Pattison is executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Scott Pattison: There’s just so much taxation income coming in from basically the non-wage income, such as capital gains, investments, stock options, bonuses, things like that.

It’s still too early to quantify, but Pattison expects April state income tax collections will be better than the last three years. Not back to pre-recession levels, though.

Pattison: There’s still not enough money to go around. I liken it to the family that may have had a slight boost in income, but the stack of bills on the other side of the table are higher than the amount they received in the additional income.

States are still in a financial hole, he says. But at least the hole’s not getting any bigger.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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