Monday, June 22, 2009

Michigan Tax Revenue Continues to Deteriorate

The latest monthly state revenue report was finally released today, and it doesn't look good. A few of the money quotes:
The revenue collected from Michigan’s General Fund and School Aid Fund earmarked taxes totaled $1.3 billion in May, which was down 13.4% from last year’s level.  This marked the  fourth consecutive month  that tax collections have declined in excess of 10.0%.  While  collections for almost all of the major taxes experienced declines in May from their year-ago levels, the most significant declines were experienced by the sales, use, and income taxes.   Compared with the Senate Fiscal Agency’s monthly breakdown of the revised consensus estimates for FY 2008-09, May collections fell below the monthly estimate by $62.0 million and this shortfall was due primarily to weaker-than-expected sales and use tax collections.

When the Senate Fiscal Agency met in mid-May, they estimated the revenues for the remainder of the fiscal year. Despite the fact that they updated their estimates at that time, actual revenues for May declined by $62 million. In other words, in the matter of a few weeks, their estimates were already off. The budget is deteriorating that quickly.

Sales tax revenue totaled $406.6 million in May, which was down a sharp 22.2% from the year-ago  level.   A consistent historical monthly series for the sales tax is available back to FY 1984-85 and the decline in May marks the largest percentage decline  in monthly sales tax collections during this 24-year period.

. . .

Tobacco tax revenue totaled $84.0 million in May, which was down 5.9% from last year’s level.  Most of  this decline is likely due to the large increase in the Federal tobacco tax that went into effect on April 1.  The Federal tax increase is having a negative impact on Michigan’s $2-per-pack cigarette tax because it boosted the price of cigarettes and therefore is having a negative impact on cigarette sales and Michigan’s tax receipts.

That last quote is vitally important. It perfectly exemplifies the power of taxation. It's common sense, but the politicians in Lansing don't seem to get it. The more you tax something, the less of that "something" you're going to get. Clearly, the more cigarettes are taxed, the fewer cigarettes that will be sold. The same goes for businesses. The more you tax businesses, the fewer businesses there will be, and hence the fewer jobs there will be. Gosh, it's pretty simple, but our tax-hiking pals in Lansing and elsewhere don't seem to get it.

Finally, the $406 million of sales tax revenue in May was the lowest monthly level of sales tax collection I could find, going back at least until 2005. Michigan is hurting, folks, and it's only going to get worse, as exemplified by the state's skyrocketing 14.1% unemployment rate.

Read a little about how California's government is collapsing because of that state's inability to enact any rational level of reform: California Collapsing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Local Housing Market Still in the Tank

I found an interesting chart, courtesy of, showing the median home price in Grand Rapids, as well as the number of homes sold on a quarterly basis. Clearly things are bad and getting worse. Median home prices have dropped almost in half since 2004. Incredible!

Oh, and remember our post about how the stimulus won't do a damn thing? Below is the Federal Government's chart, formulated back in January, which attempted to scare people into passing the gigantic wasteful bloated stimulus plan. They wanted to show how bad things would get without the stimulus and how much better things would be if the stimulus did pass. Guess what. Things are much worse than either prediction. The red dots are actual unemployment since January. Just another reason not to believe any of the bilge coming out of Washington when it comes to economics.