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State revenue for March up 2.2 percent

FRANKFORT — State revenue for March was up 2.2 percent from the previous year, signaling a slight upward turn in the state's gloomy financial picture.

General Fund revenue was $652 million, compared with $637.8 million in March 2009, according to figures released Monday by the Office of the State Budget Director.

The Consensus Forecasting Group — a panel of economists who predict state revenue — had called for a 2.7 percent decline for the entire fiscal year, which began July 1. To meet that projection, receipts will have to decline 0.9 percent during the last three months of the fiscal year.

Road Fund receipts, which fuel most of the state's transportation budget, showed a sizable jump from the previous year. Receipts totaled $103.2 million, a 9.1 percent increase from March 2009.

But state budget director Mary Lassiter, in a written statement, said the recent uptick in revenue was predicted in December. However, the state is not out of the financial doldrums, Lassiter said.

"Although General Fund collections were improved relative to last year's activity, there remains weakness in the consumer sector as evidenced by 1.6 percent decline in sales and use tax receipts," Lassiter said.

Another substantial segment of the state's income — individual income taxes — still lags because the state's unemployment rate has been topped 10 percent for several months.

"Until the statewide unemployment rate of 10.9 percent improves, we can't expect substantial growth in tax receipts," Lassiter said.

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