State's surplus only $4.6 million for fiscal 1990 Slow growth blamed for revenue shortfall

September 15, 1990|By Doug Birch

Maryland state government closed the books on fiscal 1990 June 30 with a meager $4.6 million surplus, the slimmest since the recession-plagued year of 1983, a spokesman for Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein said yesterday.

The figure fell far short of the anticipated $55 million surplus because of slower-than-expected economic growth, said Marvin A. Bond, an aide to Mr. Goldstein. "The bottom line is you didn't get quite as much as you thought you were going to get on your major revenue sources, your income taxes and your sales taxes," he said.

The news comes just two weeks after Gov. William Donald Schaefer disclosed that the state faces a $150 million deficit in its fiscal 1991 budget, based on current revenue and spending estimates.

In a statement issued by his office yesterday, the comptroller blamed the small 1990 surplus on slowing construction and retail sales coupled with a tightening of credit. That "primarily affected sales taxes, income taxes, the property transfer tax and the tax on the net earnings of financial institutions," Mr. Goldstein was quoted as saying.

While revenue from other sources fell short, the statement said, more money than expected poured into the state treasury from the lottery, the tax on insurance companies and death taxes.

Mr. Bond said the state lottery, which has experienced declining ticket sales in recent years, netted $311.3 million in fiscal 1990, $11 million more than expected. He credited several Lotto games where there was no winner for several weeks, which raised the jackpot and interest in the game.

But the lottery's fiscal 1990 profits were still about $8.3 million lower than the $319.6 million it earned in fiscal 1989.

Corporate income tax revenues were $27.3 million less than expected, mostly because of lower profits for national businesses, the comptroller's statement said. Sales tax growth slowed because of lower-than-expected sales of general merchandise, furniture and appliances.

"The continuing concern about the national economy, together with the uncertainties of the Persian Gulf situation, make it necessary for us to monitor revenues especially closely over the next several months," Mr. Goldstein was quoted as saying.

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