by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
State agencies continued to hold back spending in May. General Fund appropriations for the month of May were down 3% compared to May 2019 to $2.289 billion, according to the latest report from the State Controller. Appropriations are up 0.9% for the eleven months through May to $21.372 billion, which marks a downshift since January when appropriations were running 3.7% ahead of last year.
General Fund revenue for the month was $43 million ahead of 2019 at $1.78 billion, but revenue for the year was $688 million (3.0%) behind last year, and $973 million (4.25%) below target, at $21.732 billion.
Appropriations outpaced revenue by $509 million for the month, but are $547 million less than revenue for the year. Adding the $547 million to the $1.6 billion cash balance leaves $2.141 billion unreserved balance for now.
Fiscal Research said last month that General Fund revenue would likely be $1.6 billion less than budgeted by the end of June, and another $2.6 billion behind next fiscal year. Gov. Cooper needs to take more active steps to reduce spending this month and he needs to prepare state agencies for continued lean budgeting from July onward.