Governor McDonnell Announces Fourth Straight Year of Revenue Surplus

First time since Allen Administration that a governor has attained a revenue surplus in all four years of term

~Virginia concluded FY2013 with preliminary $261.9 million surplus; Four year revenue surpluses total $930 million~

State employees to receive first pay increase in six years


RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that for the fourth straight year, the Commonwealth of Virginia has reached the end of the fiscal year with a revenue surplus. Preliminary figures indicate that the state concluded Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 with an approximately $261.9 million surplus from general fund revenue collections, excluding transfers. This is the first time since Governor George Allen’s administration that a governor has attained a revenue surplus at the end of all four fiscal years during his term.

Total revenue collections rose by 5.3 percent in FY 2013, above the revised revenue forecast 3.6 percent growth.  This marks the third straight year that revenue growth has exceeded 5 percent in Virginia. The main drivers of the revenue increase were growth in individual income tax receipts from nonwithholding payments, lower individual income tax refunds and higher than expected recordation tax collections.  A comprehensive breakdown of the preliminary FY 2013 revenue surplus is shown below.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell commented, “Today’s great news is further proof that Virginia’s economy is getting stronger.  The numbers we are seeing show that Virginia’s housing market is starting to recover, and even more importantly more people are returning to work.  Over the past three years we’ve seen our state unemployment rate fall to 5.3 percent; nearly Virginia’s lowest unemployment rate in over four and a half years.  When I came into office, Virginia faced a stark economic forecast.  We set an important standard of conservative budgeting and conservative spending.  We made tough decisions, cut back where we needed to, consolidated boards and agencies, reduced the number of state employees by over 2,000 and invested in areas that would produce economic growth.  After facing a significant shortfall in fiscal year 2009 in the first year of the Great Recession, we now have seen four consecutive years of improving revenue growth.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “We concluded Fiscal Year 2013 with a preliminary $261.9 million revenue surplus and a 5.3 percent increase in revenue collections.  Most of these surplus funds are already allocated by budgetary requirements, including payments to the Revenue Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund and the Water Quality Improvement Fund.   Nonetheless, the preliminary report I received from the State Comptroller, indicating that actual general fund revenues collected exceed our budget estimates, will allow me to authorize the pay increase and salary compression adjustment in the Appropriation Act, giving state employees a pay raise for the first time in six years.  This increase, which will be reflected in the August 16, 2013 paycheck for state employees, will mark the third time in my four years that we have been able to provide additional compensatory benefits to our state employees through incentive programs that encourage increased savings among our state agencies by providing a three percent performance bonus in 2010 and 2012, and now the first permanent base pay raise.  I want to thank GACRE, JABE and the Department of Taxation for their important work on consensus forecasting.  Today’s great news is truly a product of the bipartisan effort of the General Assembly to rein in spending, budget frugally, and enact our job creation and incentive programs to encourage economic growth in Virginia.  This fourth straight revenue surplus is a testament to the importance of fiscal constraint and conservative revenue forecasting.  Virginia is in a better economic position today than it has been in many years because of the smart budget decisions made over the last 3 ½ years coupled with our bipartisan focus on increasing job creation and economic development across the Commonwealth.”

Secretary of Finance Ric Brown added, “Virginia’s economy is improving.  After facing years of little or negative growth, we continue to head in a positive direction as a result of our fiscal discipline and conservative budgetary approach.  This is a Virginia accomplishment as much as it is a finance one.  It is indeed good news for our collective Commonwealth.”

Senator Walter Stosch (R-Henrico), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, remarked, “I am very pleased that the Governor, following the advice of his economic advisors, adopted a conservative estimate of the expected revenues for the most recent fiscal year.  This is smart financial planning as good stewards of Virginia's taxpayers.  With the actual revenues exceeding the conservative estimate by $261.9 million, an important result will be to have the funds necessary to deposit the required amounts into the Revenue Stabilization Fund and the Water Quality Improvement Fund, and pay other bills as required by law.  While unobligated amounts will indeed be minimal, Virginia continues to lead the way among other states in fiscal management through budgets that always balance, and by paying our bills on time.

Delegate Lacey Putney (I-Bedford), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, noted, “I applaud Governor McDonnell and my colleagues in the General Assembly for our work in properly estimating revenue growth over the last four years and budgeting in a conservative manner.  Because of our good fiscal management, Virginia is a sound financial position and seeing encouraging economic growth.  This surplus is a solid accomplishment during these uncertain economic times.”

The final FY 2013 surplus tally will not be available until August 19th, after final tabulations of transfers and appropriation savings recognized through greater operational efficiencies and incentives to control spending throughout state government are calculated.  Each of the past three years have also generated a savings surplus, creating a total surplus of nearly $1.4 billion over the past three years.  We anticipate another savings surplus this year.  Most, if not all of the revenue surplus, will be used to satisfy Constitutional or other legal requirements, such as additional payments to the State’s “Rainy Day Fund” and the Water Quality Improvement Fund.

Today’s announcement constitutes the fourth fiscal year in a row that Virginia has concluded the fiscal year with a revenue surplus. In FY 2010 the revenue surplus for the year was $228 million.  In FY 2011, the revenue surplus was $311 million.  And in FY 2012, the revenue surplus was $129 million.

Analysis of Fiscal Year 2013 Revenues Based on Preliminary Data

  • Total general fund revenue      collections exceeded the official forecast by $261.9 million (1.6 percent      variance) in fiscal year 2013.
    • The 25 year average general       fund revenue forecast variance is plus or minus 1.5 percent.
  • The FY 2013 revenue surplus is      attributable to prudent fiscal management, including Virginia's consensus      revenue forecasting process.
    • In its fall meeting, the Joint       Advisory Board of Economists was split between the standard forecast and       "standard minus," with two members choosing the recession       forecast.
    • Based on business leaders' and       General Assembly member comments, the “standard minus” outlook for fiscal       year 2013 was adopted.
    • During the midsession review,       year-to-date trends did not support a revision to the forecast.
  • Total general fund revenues      rose 5.3 percent in FY 2013 compared with the forecast of 3.6 percent growth.
  • The FY 2013 revenue surplus is      largely due to stronger individual nonwithholding, lower refunds and      higher recordation tax receipts.
  • On a cautionary note, payroll      withholding and sales tax collections, 85 percent of total revenues, and      the best indicator of current economic activity in the Commonwealth, fell      short of the forecast by $144.0 million, a forecast variance of -1.1      percent.
    • Estimates for these two       sources are directly tied to the economic outlook developed during the       fall forecasting process, and specifically, the outlook for jobs and wage       income in the Commonwealth.
    • The slowdown in withholding       and sales tax collections over the last five months of FY 2013 suggests       that federal sequestration is having an effect on the Commonwealth.


  • Individual income tax      withholding, 63 percent of total general fund revenues, was below the      estimate by $115.0 million (-1.1 percent variance).
    • Annual collections increased       2.1 percent compared with the forecast of a 3.3 percent increase.
  • Individual income tax      nonwithholding, 15 percent of total revenues and one of the most volatile      revenue sources, exceeded the annual estimate by $290.0 million (11.5      percent variance) in FY 2013.
    • These payments are       historically tied to non-wage income sources - mainly the financial       markets.
    • Total nonwithholding       collections grew 19.1 percent in fiscal year 2013.
      • Despite the unexpectedly        robust growth in FY 2013, nonwithholding collections still remain below        fiscal year 2008's peak.
  • Individual refunds finished      $72.2 million (4.0 percent variance) below the annual estimate in FY 2013,      a net positive for the Commonwealth.
  • Taken together, withholding,      nonwithholding, and refunds, i.e. net individual income taxes, grew 6.9      percent in FY 2013, ahead of the annual forecast of 4.5 percent growth by      $247.3 million, a forecast variance of 2.2 percent.
  • Sales and use tax collections,      20 percent of total revenues and the other revenue source (along with      withholding) most closely related to current economic activity in the      Commonwealth, fell short of the annual estimate by $29.0 million (-0.9      percent variance).
  • Corporate income tax      collections, 5 percent of total revenues and one of the most volatile      revenue sources, declined by 7.3 percent in FY 2013, compared with the      forecast of a 4.5 percent decline.
  • Wills, Suits, Deeds, and      Contracts (primarily recordation tax collections), 2 percent of total      revenues, finished the year $41.0 million (12.2 percent variance) ahead of      the annual forecast.
    • Collections grew 17.2 percent       in FY 2013, well ahead of the projected growth rate of 4.5 percent.
  • Insurance premiums tax, 2      percent of total revenues, exceeded the annual estimate by $6.6 million      (2.6 percent variance).
  • All other revenues were $20.3      million above expectations in FY 2013.