One Area of State Budget Was Up, but there’s No Celebration

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The state budget is a sea of red, as income and sales tax collections are less than half of what was predicted for this month. There is one specific area of the budget that is showing big increases, but it’s not what state officials want to see.

Alcoholic beverage tax revenue is up by 24.4%, the tax take from liquor is 13.6% higher than projections, and cigarette tax collections are up 20.5% for April.

Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks said that’s just a small portion of the overall budget, but it’s not good news.

“Obviously that is not, from a health perspective, something that we ever want to see, and that could, of course, pose challenges going into the future,” Murnieks said.

Murnieks said it can be hard for forecasters to predict what will come in from those smaller tax categories, which could explain why those areas are up so much from projections.

But she notes sales of alcohol and tobacco during this pandemic have been soaring nationwide.

Ohio has limited sales of cigarettes to people over 21, which was expected to decrease the amount of tax revenue from that souce.