CL – State revenue may be rising for 1st time in 19 months

For the first time in 19 months, the state is expected to meet – and, in fact, may slightly exceed – revenue projections.

Revenues as of Tuesday for March were about a quarter of 1 percent above estimates, largely because of a strong showing in corporate income tax receipts.

“This is as good of news as when my first son was born,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose.

These numbers are likely to come into play as Mississippi lawmakers return to the Capitol on April 20 to start work on the 2011 budget. They recessed Saturday after finishing work on nonbudget bills.

Part of the reason lawmakers asked for the delay was to see how March revenue numbers would shake out. The state also is waiting to hear whether Congress will extend a more generous Medicaid match that would add $187 million to the budget.

But meeting or exceeding projections for one month doesn’t mean Gov. Haley Barbour will rush to restore any of the roughly $500 million in cuts he has made to the current budget.

“It’s good to make projections; it’s better when it repeats,” Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said. “Actually making revenue projections for one month is reason to be optimistic, but it’s not sufficient to consider restoring cuts yet.”