* First-quarter revenues rose 4.7 pct to record
* Real estate woes dampen property tax receipts
By Lisa Lambert
WASHINGTON, June 28 State and local governments
brought in record first-quarter revenues this year, according
to a U.S. Census Bureau report released on Tuesday that offered
a sign their budget crises may be abating.
Total state and local revenues for the first quarter
reached $321.6 billion, a 4.7 percent rise from the first
quarter of 2010 and the highest level on records going back to
1988. It marked "the sixth consecutive quarter of positive
year-over-year growth," the Census said.
Revenues fell from $381.27 billion in the fourth quarter.
Typically, the fourth quarter shows the highest state and local
tax revenues of the year.
States' revenues alone totaled $179.84 billion, a separate
Census report showed. That was 9 percent above the first
quarter of 2010 and 13 percent above the first quarter of 2009,
when state revenues hit their lowest point in the recession.
Still, states' revenues in the first three months of 2011
were lower than the $181.41 billion brought in during the same
period in 2008.
In the first three months of 2008, states' revenues reached
the highest first quarter level on record. Then, the housing
bust, financial crisis and recession caught up with states and
their revenues collapsed. For nearly three years, they have had
to cut spending, hike taxes and turn to the federal government
HOW TO CLOSE BUDGET GAPS
The U.S. recession ended in mid-2009, but states' budgets
have yet to bounce back. Investors in the $2.9 trillion
municipal bond market are worried about how most states are
closing billions of dollars in budget gaps for their fiscal
years that start July 1.
Meanwhile, because of a lag in real estate assessments,
local governments are watching their property tax revenues dip
just as states cut aid and funds cease flowing from
Washington's $831 billion stimulus plan.
Property tax revenues made up more than a third of the
total state and local tax revenue in the first quarter at
$113.3 billion, according to the Census. Almost all of that,
$111.3 billion, was collected by local governments such as
cities and counties.
The total property tax revenues were down 1.7 percent from
the first quarter of 2010. It was the second quarter in a row
that property tax revenue dropped from the year before.
Conversely, total state and local individual income tax
revenues grew to $64.4 billion in the first quarter from $57.5
billion in the year-ago period. It was the fifth straight
quarter of year-on-year growth, the Census said.
General sales tax revenue also rose -- to $73.7 billion
from $69.7 billion in the first quarter of 2010.
Still, the Census said that "general sales tax collection
remains below the first quarter 2007 level of $74.7 billion."
Census data showed that individual income tax provides most
of the revenues for states alone, making up a third of their
total revenues in the first quarter at $59.21 billion. States
also collected $57.72 billion in sales taxes. Both states'
income and sales tax receipts were higher than the first
quarter of last year.
(Editing by Philip Barbara; Graphic by Stephen Culp)