Texas’ Budget Surplus Shocks Everyone
Texas State lawmakers who are gearing up for a new session that begins on Tuesday won't be hampered by a lack of money for the upcoming budget. Instead, the growing debate will be, what can and should lawmakers do with all this extra money?
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced on Monday that the budget surplus for Texas had increased by nearly $33 billion dollars. Given the number announced on Monday, it's likely that Republican lawmakers will continue pushing to use much of the money to buy down school property taxes.
But that isn't the only issue that lawmakers will look at putting the money into. Hegar did warn lawmakers that this big surplus isn't likely going to continue according to the Dallas Morning News.
“I must advise some caution,” though, said Hegar, the state’s chief tax collector and a former legislator.
“Bluntly, don’t count on me announcing another big revenue jump two years from now,” he said. “The revenue increases that we’ve seen have been in many ways unprecedented and we cannot reasonably expect a repeat. We are unlikely to have an opportunity like this again.”
Contributing to Hegar’s caution is his expectation that higher interest rates set by the Federal Reserve to curb inflation will further discourage new housing construction and dampen consumer spending in Texas.
“We expect a mild recession,” he said. “The expected downturn for Texas is relatively shallow and short, but it will not make Texans’ lives easier.”
Among Hegar’s grounds for pessimism: He sees non-farm employment dipping to 13.67 million jobs in fiscal 2024, which begins Sept. 1. That’s down from 13.73 million this year. The number will rebound to 13.74 million in fiscal 2025, the second half of the upcoming cycle, he predicted.
Hegar did suggest some area's of investment by the State of Texas, including pushing funds into the grid, broadband connectivity, salary adjustments for state employees including teachers and nurses and port and water infrastructure. Hegar said that was on top of the Governor's border security push.