“We have had negative growth in the state, but not as much as we expected when we issued the forecast of a $4.6 billion budget deficit for this biennium,” said Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar during the North Texas Commission Legislative Summit.
During the Legislative Summit, Hegar said he was not ready to issue a new revenue estimate yet. He is required to do that on January 11 in anticipation of the 87th Texas Legislature opening the next day. In his comments, he hinted if the current trends in revenue continue, that number may be as much as $1 billion better than the estimate.
Hegar also commented that no federal dollars from coronavirus relief have been factored into the revenue estimate. While it is not certain that more federal dollars will be given to the state this year, this would also improve the revenue estimate.
Hegar was not willing to speculate on how much of the “rainy day fund” could or should be used to close the gap. However, he did allow that we needed to save some for the next rainy day. He informally estimated that the balance in the “rainy day fund” should be about $8.8 billion at the end of this fiscal year.
Comptroller Hegar also said he does not see any easy sources of increased revenue short of growing the Texas economy. He cautioned that we need to continue to fund our pension liabilities and take steps to protect our AA bond rating.
State Senator Kelly Hancock, speaking on a panel later during the North Texas Commission Legislative Summit, stressed that h the $4.6 billion estimated deficit was only 2.5% of the Texas budget.
CLICK HERE to watch the video of the panel discussion at the North Texas Commission Legislative Summit.
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