ATLANTA – Georgia lawmakers will begin the 2021 General Assembly session on Monday fresh off some positive news.

State tax collections rose by 7.7% last month compared to December of 2019, the Georgia Department of Revenue reported late Friday.

The strong December capped off a better than expected revenue outlook for the first half of fiscal 2021. State tax receipts for the first six months of the fiscal year were up 6.1% over the first half of fiscal 2020, despite the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on Georgia businesses and workers.

Individual income tax collections increased by 7.2% in December, driven in part by a 17.3% decrease in refunds issued by the revenue agency. Net sales tax receipts rose by 9.2%.

Corporate income taxes were up by 13.9%. As with individual income tax revenues, a major factor for the increase in corporate income tax receipts was a 17.4% drop in refunds.

The state’s healthy tax revenue outlook will make it easier for the General Assembly to avoid further cuts on top of the $2.2 billion in spending reductions lawmakers made last June to the current budget.

If possible, the legislature will look to build back the state’s rainy day fund, which lawmakers dipped into last year to make ends meet, as well as restore at least some of $1 billion in cuts to education.