Strong Economy Means Vastly Improved State Financial Picture

posted by 1200 WOAI -

How would you like to wake up in the morning and find you have $2.8 billion more in the bank than you thought?

1200 WOAI News reports that the situation facing Texas state officials, as State Comptroller Glenn Hegar is reporting that the surging Texas economy has resulted in oil and gas severance tax and sales tax revenues far in excess of estimates which were made before the start of the 2017 Legislature, when oil prices were $30 lower than they are today.

“Texas in particular benefited from rising oil prices and production and the consequent increase in economic activity," Hegar said.  "The best ongoing indicator of the robust Texas economy is the state’s rate of job growth. Texas added more than 350,000 new jobs in the 12 months ending in May 2018, and the state’s unemployment rate has been at or near historic lows in recent months.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says this comes as a good time, because the state has major commitments to deal with.

“This news comes at a good time as we face substantial challenges in the next legislative session including the ever increasing cost of Medicaid, the on-going recovery from Hurricane Harvey, my commitment to better securing our schools and ensuring a larger portion of education spending goes to teacher salaries," Patrick said.

Hegar says drivers will also benefit from the news, because the Proposition 7 TxDOT fund, approved by the voters in 2015, requires that the first $2.5 billion of sales tax collections exceeding $28 billion in the state treasury be dedicated exclusively to construction and maintenance of non tolled highways.

"Better than expected sales tax collections means the State Highway Fund will get its full collection of $2.5 billion from fiscal 2018 sales tax collections," Hegar said.

The revenue estimate covers the fiscal year that begins in September and ends in August of 2019, when the new biennial budget which will be approved by lawmakers who meet in January will take effect.

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