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State revenue shortfall widens in December

December was neither merry nor bright for Pennsylvania’s revenue picture.

As of December, the state had collected $367 million less in taxes than it expected in the current fiscal year, up from a shortfall of $261.8 million through November, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue

Overall, the commonwealth collected $2.6 billion in general fund revenue in December, bringing the fiscal year-to-date total to $13.5 billion.

If revenue collections continue to lag, state officials may be forced to make budget cuts later in the year. Pennsylvania is operating under a $31.6 billion budget for 2016-17.

“As we move forward, Governor (Tom) Wolf is committed to continuing to address the financial challenges of the commonwealth and mitigate the need for new revenue to the extent possible,” said Kevin Hensil, a spokesman for the revenue department.

Wolf, who will deliver his next budget proposal on Feb. 7, announced last month the elimination of thousands of unfilled positions in state government.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly are looking to cut spending by restructuring state government, including the possible consolidation of state agencies.

Last month, revenue came in below estimates in almost every stream, including personal income tax, the state’s largest source of income. That revenue is off by $125.9 million for the fiscal year so far.

Sales tax collections are off by $133.3 million for the year, while corporate tax collections are down $100.5 million. Tax revenue from tobacco products, malt beverages, liquor and table games taxes is down $16.3 million this year. 

The lone bright spot this year has been non-tax revenue, which was up $54.4 million through December.

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