State tax revenue starting to tick higher


One of the biggest fears coming out of the pandemic — at least as far as the government was concerned — were significant shortfalls in tax revenue to pay for state services.

But if the first three months of fiscal 2021 is any indicator, New York state might be well on its way toward recovery.

Lawmakers were expecting revenue of just $26 billion during that time, but instead banked just under $31 billion — a jump of 19 percent.

Nearly all of it came from higher-than-expected personal income tax receipts, according to state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, although business taxes also were slightly higher than Albany had anticipated.

This quarterly income was more than double what it was at the height of the pandemic last year, when New York only collected a little under $14 billion in taxes.

Yet some of that is not from a better economy, DiNapoli said, but instead by delayed tax filings and extension requests.

Overall, the state raised $570 million more than expected, while business taxes were $605 million higher than accountants had anticipated.

Spending is up 14 percent to just over $46 billion, however, primarily because of higher Medicaid and transportation costs. But at least in June, spending was nearly $2.5 billion lower than expected.

The state has $15 billion in the bank.


Economy rebounding despite delta COVID surge

New York is set to share its July job numbers next week. But many economists got a preview from the feds, showing that more than 940,000 new jobs were created nationwide, all as the federal unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent.

“We’re now the first administration in history to add jobs every single month in our first six months in office,” President Joe Biden announced from the White House last week, adding his administration was the only one to add 4 million jobs during the first six months.

“Economic growth is the fastest in 40 years,” the president said. “Jobs are up. The unemployment rate is the lowest since the pandemic hit. Black unemployment is down as well.”

Biden credited the success on his administration’s coronavirus vaccine initiative as well as his American Rescue Plan. He warned, however, the country is far from being out of the woods — especially with the delta variant lurking.

Still, the president expressed some optimism about what the country had achieved to this point.

“Because of our success with the vaccination effort, this new delta variant wave of COVID-19 will be very different,” Biden said. “Yes, cases are going to go up before they come back down. It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated. I know I’ve said that constantly, and others have as well.”

Delta variant cases now account for nearly all new infections in the United States, most of it concentrated in a few southern states where vaccination rates significantly lag the rest of the country.

New York, however, was expected to reach the 70 percent threshold of fully vaccinated adults as early as Tuesday, according to the governor’s office. Nearly 78 percent have received at least one dose, and were part of 23 million doses administered to this point.

Yet, COVID-19 hospitalizations are slowly on the rise, with a little more than 1,800 needing hospital beds as of Tuesday.

At least when it comes to hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes, vaccines will be required by the state come Sept. 27 in an effort by state officials to curb a major surge.

Originally published Aug. 19, 2021

Thomas DiNapoli, Michael Hinman, Joe Biden, coronavirus, COVID-19,