February 05. 2013 8:35PM

Updated: State revenues plunge in January

State House Bureau

CONCORD - The state's budget picture for the fiscal year grew a little bleaker with the release Tuesday of revenue figures showing that business taxes were off nearly 30 percent for January

State revenues are down $17.3 million for the month and $30.4 million for the year to date. With nearly $14 million more in refunds in business interest and dividends taxes due to be distributed in the next two months, state budget officials may have to deal with a $45 million shortfall before July 1.

The refunds have been pending before the Department of Revenue Administration, but will not be distributed until this month or next, according to Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon.

She said the refunds and the shortfall in business taxes last month make it difficult to predict what revenues may be for the next two years.

Gov. Maggie Hassan is scheduled to present her proposed 2014-2015 budget Feb. 12.

Hodgdon said lawmakers may have a better idea of what state revenues might be in the next biennium with several additional months of revenues to review.

"I can't guess going forward," Hodgdon said, noting January is a small revenue month and that the business taxes may be an aberration this month, but it is impossible to tell right now.

But she said that without the refunds and issues with the Medicaid Enhancement Tax hospitals pay on patient services, revenues are close to projections.

Hospitals have paid about $30 million less in Medicaid Enhancement Taxes than budget writers projected due to a disagreement over what should be included for tax liabilities.

The state used to return the tax to the hospitals in uncompensated care payments after using it to match federal funds, but the state no longer returns the money to the largest hospitals.

For January, business taxes are off $7.7 million, returning $26.2 million. Securities revenue is down $8.6 million, returning just $600,000. Money projected for January for securities fees was counted in last month's revenues.

As expected, the telecommunications and tobacco taxes are below estimates for the month, due to a 10-cent-a-pack decrease in the tobacco tax and a change in telecommunications tax that prohibits the state from charging for internet access.

The rooms and meals, real estate transfer and interest and dividends taxes are all ahead of estimates for this month.

For January, state revenues totaled $108 million, down $17.3 million from estimates.

With five months to go in the fiscal year, state revenues total $972.2 million, down $30.4 million from estimates. But revenues are $34 million more than the state took in a year ago.