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Combs: 2006 Study Will Not Be Revisited

State Comptroller Susan Combs says her office doesn't have the resources to update a 2006 study of the economic impact of Texas' undocumented immigrant population.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on Feb. 7, 2013.

State Comptroller Susan Combs has told U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego that her office will not update a 2006 cost-benefit study that analyzed the economic impact of the state’s undocumented immigrant population.

Citing staffing losses, budget constraints and changes in federal and state laws, Combs informed the Alpine Democrat that the analysis would not be revisited. 

“Updating the report, thus, would take months to complete and would require the commitment of resources that our office is unable to allocate to such a project at this time,” Combs wrote. The letter is dated June 24 but wasn’t received until Friday, Gallego's office said. Gallego sent his request on June 11. 

The original study was conducted by then-Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. It concluded that if the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants who lived in the state in 2005 were deported, Texas would have lost an estimated $17.7 billion in gross domestic product that year. It also showed that undocumented immigrants produced more in state revenue  — $1.58 billion in 2005 — than the $1.16 billion in costs they generated from using state services that year. Local governments, however, saw a loss of about $1.44 billion in combined health care and law enforcement costs that the state did not reimburse.

Gallego, who served in the Texas House for 20 years before being elected to Congress in 2012, said an updated study could shed light on the economics of immigration reform. He said in a statement on Monday that Combs’ declining of his request comes during a “crucial” moment.

“Estimating state revenues and potential revenue streams is one of the core missions of the Comptroller's office,” he said. “The potential revenue available to Texas depending on the outcome of immigration reform is hugely significant — possibly more than any other state. There are billions of dollars at stake.”

Combs referenced a June report by the Congressional Budget Office that projected a deficit reduction of $197 billion over the next 10 years — and by almost $700 billion through 2033 — if the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, S.744 was signed into law. But she said she could not speak to the validity of the CBO study and conceded it did not contain Texas-specific data.

That bill passed the Senate last month but will not be considered in the Republican-led U.S. House. Leadership in that chamber has prioritized enforcement and border security over a path to citizenship and the potential economic impact of reform. The House has rejected comprehensive reform efforts like S. 744, opting instead for a series of more defined changes to enforcement, security and legalization policies.

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