Today is like Christmas Day for members of the Texas Legislature, because this is the day they learned how much of your money they'll have to spend in the 2019 Regular Session that begins tomorrow, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
State Comptroller Glen Hegar says there will be $119 billion in the bank in the coming 2020-2021 biennium for lawmakers to appropriate, but he warned that a lot can happen between now and August 31, 2021, when the budget period that's currently in play will end."Continued low prices or further declines in oil prices could lead to reduced activity in the energy sector, which will affect not just severance tax collections but other taxes as well, like the states sales and franchise taxes," he said.
Hegar also warned that sales taxes, which amount to more than 60% of the state's total tax collections, could easily swing in the coming two and a half years.
"Sales taxes are easily our largest source of revenue, and sales tax collections can swing substantially from one year to the next."
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the revenue estimate shows that lawmakers will have ample funds available to approve the number one priority for both parties, increasing state aid to education to reduce property taxes.
"This matches the Senate projections. We face a broad range of fiscal challenges in the 86th Legislative Session and we are committed to property tax reform, increasing teacher pay and school finance reform. We are confident we can accomplish these goals," Patrick said.
Hegar says the money being diverted to the state Proposition Seven Highway Fund and the size of the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, are at all time highs, due to the strong performance of the oil and gas industry over the last two years.
Releasing the Comptroller's Revenue Estimate before the start of every legislative session is the only Constitutionally mandated function of the Comptroller's office.
Hegar said despite the 'clouds' potentially surrounding the state oil and gas industry, Texas is in solid financial situaiton.
"Texas remains economically well positioned compared to other states," he said. "We are well positioned to outpace other states and the U.S. economy in the long term."