Texas sales tax revenue down 8.8 percent in Feb.

State sales tax collections were down 8.8 percent in February, compared with the same month a year ago. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said Wednesday that the state collected $1.6 billion in sales tax revenue in February. And even though that’s down 8.8 percent compared to February 2009, she said sales tax losses have begun to moderate.

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Combs says sales tax revenue continues to be down in major sectors such as retail, oil and gas production and construction. But there’s a slight uptick in the manufacturing sector.

She says there may be more declines in the coming months before a return to sales tax revenue growth later in 2010. [Read the full article]

The government ran up the largest monthly deficit in history in February, keeping the flood of red ink on track to top last year’s record for the full year.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the February deficit totaled $220.9 billion, 14 percent higher than the previous record set in February of last year.

The deficit through the first five months of this budget year totals $651.6 billion, 10.5 percent higher than a year ago.

The Obama administration is projecting that the deficit for the 2010 budget year will hit an all-time high of $1.56 trillion, surpassing last year’s $1.4 trillion total. The administration is forecasting that the deficit will remain above $1 trillion in 2011, giving the country thrree straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits.

The administration says the huge deficits are necessary to get the country out of the deepest recession since the 1930s. [Read the full article]

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivers his State of the Budget address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on the House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, March 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Calling himself a realist, Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday scaled back his proposal to raise income taxes, shifting to a call for an increase of just one percentage point to be used solely for preventing deep cuts to education.

The rest of Illinois’ record-breaking $13 billion budget deficit should be addressed mostly by borrowing money and letting more unpaid bills pile up, Quinn said in a brief speech to legislators.

Letting more bills pile up could be disastrous for those who need help with child care, job training, services to the elderly, drug counseling and more. The local organizations the state hires to provide those services, which already are struggling to survive, could go under if they don’t get paid. [Read the full article]

The Bahamas has been removed from an international list of uncooperative tax havens by signing information exchange pacts with several Nordic nations.

Pascal Saint-Amans is a spokesman for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is leading a global fight against tax havens.

He says the group on Wednesday promoted the Bahamas to its list of countries that comply with international tax standards. The change was made hours after Nassau signed tax information exchange pacts with Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

In recent months, the Bahamas has forged tax treaties with 11 other nations, including China and the United States.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. [Read the full article]

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