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State revenue continues to slip

FRANKFORT — Kentucky's revenues continued to decline in October, dipping 4 percent compared with last year, according to figures released Tuesday.

The state's General Fund receipts have declined 5.2 percent during the first four months of the fiscal year, according to the Office of State Budget Director. To meet the state's official revenue estimate, receipts must increase 0.2 percent over the remaining eight months of the fiscal year.

October's poor performance was expected by the Consensus Forecasting Group, a group of independent economists who help the state predict how much revenue it will receive each year, State Budget Director Mary Lassiter said in a written release.

In October, the Consensus Forecasting Group projected there could be a revenue shortfall of $161 million in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The group will return in December to make official predictions for this fiscal year and the next two years.

"While the ($161 million shortfall) is unofficial at this time, we are very concerned about the ability of revenues to meet budgeted levels," Lassiter said. "The Beshear administration remains committed to tight fiscal management as the commonwealth endures what we hope is the tail end of this persistent economic downturn."

The state receives most of its money through sales and income taxes. Sales and use tax receipts were down 4.3 percent in October over the previous year, figures show.

One bright spot: cigarette taxes grew 53 percent from October 2008 because of a 30 cent tax increase the Kentucky legislature approved earlier this year.