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Maine revenues below budget in 1st quarter

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine finance officials are giving some dreary fiscal news to lawmakers, but also point to some positive trends that could brighten the picture.

Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett on Friday told the Appropriations Committee that state general fund revenues were $26.9 million under budget, or 4.4 percent, as the first quarter ended in September. Sales taxes were nearly $10 million under budget for the quarter.

But while sales taxes are 4.7 percent under budget, Millett says they're "not terribly out of line" and some positive trends are appearing. He says consumer optimism is being reflected in sales tax revenues that are better than they were two and three years ago.

Looking ahead, the finance chief says there are concerns about the impact of the cost of fuel.