Lake Havasu City, AZ – Arizona Governor Elect Doug Ducey stopped in Mohave County a day before November’s General Election to rally support for Arizona’s Republican ticket. With the majority of Arizona voters approving an all Republican ticket for top state officials, incoming and returning lawmakers have a rough road ahead of them. According to the latest fiscal highlights released by the State’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC), Arizona has seen its sixth consecutive month where revenue collections have fallen below the budgeted forecast. The JLBC states that year-to-date collections are now $64.5 million below the forecast. Supervisor Buster Johnson, president of the Arizona Association of Counties, is concerned of the fiscal impact the State’s troubles could have on Arizona counties. “Arizona lawmakers will have to make some tough decisions this upcoming legislative session that could impact the future of our state,” Johnson stated. While the predicted $1 billion deficit facing lawmakers at the end of fiscal year 2016 is nothing in comparison to the $4 billion lawmakers faced back in 2009, the decline in revenue is still related to a downward economy. One reason for the decline is the sales tax. Although sales tax revenues are up 2.6% from last year, the JLBC states that they are still $8 million below what lawmakers predicted they would be at this time. “Arizona residents are still feeling the effects of the recession. While things are slowly starting to pick up, there is still caution when it comes to consumer spending habits,” Johnson said. According to the JLBC report, fewer people are purchasing lottery tickets as well with lottery proceeds coming in 6.7% below last year’s figures. Another reason for the decline in revenue can be contributed to the less than anticipated income tax collection. Income tax collections are $14.6 million below expectations. Corporate income taxes are also down with the state collecting $5.7 million less than expected. “The next group of legislators will not have the option to sweep funds from other agencies because that money is no longer there, the state has already sold its state owned buildings and there are no talks of the federal government issuing any new bail outs. With few options on the table, I am worried state lawmakers will once again try to balance their budget on the backs of county taxpayers,” Johnson stated. According to economists, there is some sunshine in the JLBC’s report. Arizona came in 14th in the nation for job growth during the first 9 months of the year. State economist Aruna Murtha reported that Arizona has created 53,200 jobs this year which leaves the state with a growth rate of roughly 2.1%. “Our economy is slowly growing, and I am hopeful that our incoming and returning lawmakers can find a solution to the State’s fiscal problems without taking from the counties,” Johnson ended.
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