Texas Legislature 2019

Texas tax collectors predict another $500 million for the state budget

The announcement Tuesday from Comptroller Glenn Hegar came amid lawmakers' closed-door haggling over the two-year budget, which includes funds for public schools and property tax relief.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar unveiled his revised fiscal forecast Tuesday.
Comptroller Glenn Hegar unveiled his revised fiscal forecast Tuesday.  Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. From the state budget to health care to education policy — and the politics behind it all — we focus on what Texans need to know about the biennial legislative session.

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Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Tuesday dropped a half-billion dollar gift into the laps of budget negotiators.

The news comes as a relief to legislative budget-writers, who are in the midst of closed-door meetings about how much state lawmakers should spend on public schools, property tax cuts and thousands of other line items in their two-year budget.

Lawmakers will have an additional $518 million to spend on public programs thanks to more robust tax collections, according to a revised fiscal forecast Hegar unveiled in a letter to Texas’ Republican leadership.

“Some of the increased revenue projected for fiscal 2019 is attributable to upwardly revised estimates of oil and natural gas production taxes,” Hegar wrote. As a result, the state’s oil-fed savings account, also known as the rainy day fund, is expected to grow by nearly $300 million in additional revenue.

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The revised revenue estimate comes on top of a relatively rosy prediction Hegar made in January about the state’s tax collections over the next two years. At the time, the comptroller — who oversees the state treasury and is charged with predicting volatile state revenues so that lawmakers can craft a state budget that spans two years into the future — thought state coffers would end the fiscal year on Aug. 31 with about $4.2 billion in the bank. Tuesday’s revision brings that figure to $4.7 billion.

Hegar also noted in his letter that lawmakers are likely to grow the state’s treasury by another $550 million if they pass a bill to streamline online sales tax collections on out-of-state sellers.