Pairing Back the Texas Budget

The two-year revenue estimate for Texas is out. State Comptroller Susan Combs released her estimate today—saying Texas has a little more than 77-billion dollars to spend over the next two years. Laurie Johnson reports.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says the state has $77.1 billion available for general revenue funds for the 2010-2011 biennium.

"Of note here, is that the comparable number for the current biennium, 2008-09, is $86.2 billion. So this new estimate shows a difference, a downward difference of $9.1 billion, which is down about 10 1/2 percent."

Combs says a number of factors contributed to that decline in revenue. Among them is the slowing Texas economy, which leads to reduced tax receipts.

"I'll give you one example. Motor vehicle sales, which have plunged both nationally and here in Texas. And that sales tax normally is about a $3 billion revenue source per year, is expected to drop about 21.9 percent in fiscal '09. And while it will come back somewhat in the coming biennium, we do not expect it to regain its former size before the end of the 2010-11 biennium."

According to Combs report, Texas unemployment rates will also suffer. Texas usually adds about 250,000 jobs per year. But for 2009, state estimates indicate Texas will lose jobs.

"A projected 111,000 non-farm jobs are expected to be lost during this period. Now we also believe that in the fourth quarter of calendar 2009 it's expected that we'll start seeing job growth again."

Despite the decline in revenue, Texas lawmakers say they don't intend to make significant cuts or slash services.

Governor Rick Perry issued a statement saying he is "confident we will meet our state's needs within this revenue estimate by prioritizing our spending."

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...