By The Associated Press
Arizona's post-recession budget picture continues to brighten as the state begins a new fiscal year in better shape than had been expected.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee reported that tax revenue was $145 million more than anticipated during the fiscal year that ended June 30 and spending was $112 million less than expected.
The revenue figure was 6.3 percent higher than the forecast and included revenue growth above 6 percent in all three major categories -- sales tax, income tax and property tax.
The report estimated that the 2011-12 fiscal year ending state budget balance will be $379 million. That includes $257 million from the higher-than-forecast revenues and low spending, but it does not include $450 million that the Legislature set aside as a rainy day fund for the new fiscal year.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee further projected a significant surplus for the 2012-13 fiscal year and said the two-year surplus will help offset a projected deficit in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
That deficit projection is driven largely by scheduled expiration in June 2013 of the one-cent education sales tax, although a proposed ballot initiative for this fall would extend it permanently if approved by voters.