"For the most part, it's due to the natural gas industry, and growth in production, which has had average increases in excess of 3 percent the last three years," Muchow said.
The state Road Fund also exceeded projections in October by 5 percent, with gas taxes, motor vehicle privilege taxes, and vehicle registrations bringing in $59.76 million, or $2.89 million more than estimates.
Muchow said that's a sign the economy is improving.
"People are buying new cars," he said. "That's not just a state of West Virginia trend, that's a national movement upward in new vehicle sales."
Muchow said the state's economy would need to grow at a 3.6 percent rate for the remaining eight months of the budget year for the state to avoid a 2013-14 revenue deficit.
Over the past 20 years, average annual growth in the economy has been in that range, he said.
"If this were an average year, it wouldn't be too hard to get that amount of growth," he said.
While economic forecasts call for growth in the second half of the budget year, Muchow said it's too soon to know if that will pull the budget out of its current $42.5 million shortfall.
"Forecasts would suggest economic growth is on the horizon. The question is, how far away is the horizon?" he said.Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.