By GRANT SCHULTE
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A slowly improving economy helped boost Nebraska's tax collections beyond what was expected during the fiscal year that ended last month, state Tax Commissioner Doug Ewald said Tuesday.
The state's fiscal year tax receipts through the end of June beat projections by nearly $105 million, or roughly 3 percent, Ewald said after his office released its monthly tax receipt report.
Ewald said he viewed the numbers as a sign of Nebraska's slow-but-steady recovery from the global recession. He pointed to corporate income tax receipts, which ended the year more than 17 percent higher than expected.
``That tells me they've become efficient, maybe a little leaner, and maybe haven't hired back that additional employee or two,'' Ewald said. ``All those additional, incremental profits are going straight to the bottom line.''
The state received nearly $3.7 billion in taxes, up from estimates that Nebraska would collect a little less than $3.6 billion during the fiscal year.
The growth was driven heavily by corporate and individual income tax receipts, which ended the year higher than expected. The state collected $34.2 million more in corporate income taxes than expected, and $64.7 million more in individual incomes taxes _ nearly 4 percent higher than projected.
State sales-and-use taxes were nearly 1 percent higher than estimates, while miscellaneous tax collections came in 3 percent below the projections.
By law, the additional revenue will help replenish the state's rainy day fund. The additional money will bring the total cash reserve to $384 million for the two-year budget period that ends in June 2013.
The estimates were set in April 2011 by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board, a panel that predicts Nebraska tax revenue based on the housing market, farm conditions and reports by the state's budget offices. In February, the board voted unanimously to stick with its projection for the two-year budget period that ends in June 2013, leaving lawmakers with no additional money beyond what had been expected.
Board members have credited state agriculture for helping lift the economy, despite a weak housing market and retail sales. In February, several said that some of Nebraska's largest cities _ Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney _ were faring well and trying to recruit workers for unfilled jobs.
Lawmakers and the governor rely on the board's projections when setting the state's two-year budget. Board members predicted in October that the state would collect nearly $52 million in additional revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and roughly $62 million in the following fiscal year.