BATON ROUGE, La. - State officials assumed that Louisiana's tax base had been battered by last year's hurricanes, but the latest figures show the opposite: More tax dollars than ever before are pouring in as the budget year draws to an end.

The state predicted that tax collections would plunge by almost $900 million this year, and it slashed spending to match. Instead, a record $9.2 billion is on track to be collected by the time the budget year ends on June 30, and at least some of that tax flow looks as if it is likely to continue.

Part of the upswing has come from gamblers dropping more dollars at casinos and video poker machines. More has come from higher oil and gas prices, which not only increase the state's taxes and royalties, but also increase profits in the petrochemical industry, which is a vital part of the Louisiana economy.

But the biggest surge has been in sales taxes, as hurricane victims have used federal aid, insurance proceeds and their savings to replace items as varied as socks and SUVs. Officials forecast that the state will end up with almost $500 million more in sales tax revenue than they expected before the storms hit.

"I'm amazed people replaced as much of their stuff as fast as they did without a 'my home' to go to," said Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Louisiana Legislature.

In New Orleans, sales tax collections in the first quarter were at only 76 percent of last year's level, but that represents a substantial improvement over the end of 2005, said Reginald Zeno, the city's finance director.

State officials are not sure whether the tax boom will continue, or for how long, so they are using the money to help cover one-time costs rather than for regular operating expenses, said Jerry Luke LeBlanc, the commissioner of administration.

Though Louisiana still has many obvious needs, like towing hundreds of cars from under the highway overpasses in New Orleans, state officials are not devoting the unexpected tax revenue to those projects, arguing that the federal government will ultimately cover them. But the state is spending money to help solve less evident problems in areas like health care and economic development.

The Legislature agreed with Gov. Kathleen Blanco's plan to set aside about $150 million to pay for hurricane evacuations and even more to help pay bills that are coming due from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which requires states to pick up some of the cost of disaster recovery.

The tax boom comes at a rather awkward time for the state, which is getting billions of dollars of aid from Washington to finance its program to help homeowners.

Some parts of the state have not experienced a post-hurricane boom, and some of those with tax windfalls also face increasing costs for schools, sewers and other services.

Big spikes in sales tax revenue have occurred in places where many storm evacuees have settled, including St. Tammany Parish, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.

In Baton Rouge, which officials believe may still have 100,000 more residents than it did a year ago, tax revenue was up more than 22 percent in the first quarter of this year, said Walter G. Monsour, the city's chief administrative officer.

At stores, every day is like Christmas Eve, Mr. Monsour said. "Retailers are doing wonderful; restaurants are doing wonderful; car dealers are doing wonderful," he said.

In the meantime, however, Baton Rouge is struggling to cope with a decade's worth of population growth that occurred in two weeks, as anyone who has tried to drive at rush hour here knows all too well.

Government officials in the most devastated areas could only wish for problems like that. In St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, less than a third of the population has returned, and there is still nowhere to buy groceries.

Big problems also remain in New Orleans, as well as huge unknowns. The city has had to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars and plans to borrow more from a new state program that will help local governments and agencies cover the payments on their debts.

And as in other areas hit by the hurricanes, no one knows what will happen to property tax collections, which are under way and which Mr. Zeno said were the second-largest source of city revenue after sales taxes.

On the state level, income tax collections are a big question; many residents have been out of work for months, and much of the cleanup has been done by out-of-staters for cash. Louisiana gets about a quarter of its tax revenue from personal income tax payments, which have been postponed for hurricane victims.

Based on indicators such as the amount being withheld from payrolls, budget forecasters say the state's budget assumes that income tax payments will fall by almost $400 million, or 16 percent, and rebound just a little next year.

One of those forecasters, James A. Richardson, a professor of economics at Louisiana State University, said one of the biggest surprises has been strong gambling revenue. At riverboat casinos, state data shows, there have been fewer gamblers, but they have lost far more money ($22 million more in April this year than in the previous April).

Some Louisianans may have pumped their federal aid into video poker machines and slots. But Mr. Richardson said he thought out-of-state workers did much of the gambling.

"You couldn't go to a restaurant without running into an insurance adjuster," he said, "and there were not many things for them to do in their spare time." This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. More headlines...

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