Tribpedia: Texas Taxpayers And Research Association

The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) is a non-profit organization of businesses and individuals interested in state and local fiscal policies in Texas.

The group, which is nonpartisan, tracks and lobbies on state fiscal policy and focuses on "the nexus between public fiscal policy and private business activity," according to its Web site. In addition to the advocacy wing ...

Texas Supreme Court Justices Paul Green, left, and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht listen to oral arguments Sept. 1 in Texas' appeal of a 2014 ruling that struck down its system of funding public schools as unconstitutional.
Texas Supreme Court Justices Paul Green, left, and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht listen to oral arguments Sept. 1 in Texas' appeal of a 2014 ruling that struck down its system of funding public schools as unconstitutional.

Experts: Expect Early 2016 School Finance Ruling

Citing past rulings and politics, experts and insiders are predicting the Texas Supreme Court will rule in the latest school finance appeal early next year, with some predicting a summertime special legislative session.

A worker waits to load a piece of pipe, or casing, that will be lowered into the well at a Chesapeake Energy drill site in Dimmit County, Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale.
A worker waits to load a piece of pipe, or casing, that will be lowered into the well at a Chesapeake Energy drill site in Dimmit County, Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale.

State's Shale Boom Has Major Impact on Budget

Besides boosting the economies of remote towns, the shale boom has big implications for the Texas economy and budget. Already, taxes on oil and gas production have soared above the comptroller’s estimates. 

Carol Strayhorn announces for governor, June, 2005.
Carol Strayhorn announces for governor, June, 2005.

A Budget Problem Deferred — to Now

The 2006 tax swap — lowering local school property taxes and creating a new business tax to make up the difference — is at the center of Texas' current budget troubles. The architects are still pointing fingers over what and whom to blame for the state's “structural deficit.”

The Revenue Guesstimate

Lawmakers are waiting for Comptroller Susan Combs to forecast exactly how much money the state will collect between now and August 2013 so they can write a two-year budget that spends no more than that. It's not exactly like opening the envelopes at the Oscars, but the Capitol community will be hanging on her every word. If history is a guide, her estimate of revenues will be closer to the bull's eye than the Legislature's estimate of spending. But this is a dark art; accuracy can be elusive.

A Tax Increase for Small Businesses?

Despite the prospect of a $21 billion budget shortfall, the governor, the lieutenant governor and several state lawmakers have insisted that the upcoming legislative session will be a "no-tax-increase session." But as Erika Aguilar of KUT News reports, small businesses in Texas could still end up paying more taxes.

The Shell Game

If history is any guide, the Legislature will turn to accounting illusions to mask large portions of a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion. Trouble is, such trickery is a bet on the economy roaring back to life — and that's no sure thing. 

Fee for All!

Every candidate vying for a legislative seat knows what lies ahead in 2011: a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion, probably higher, and state agency cuts to save as much of that amount as possible. But new revenue is a possibility as well, even if lawmakers are expert at the old sleight of hand, employing creative accounting and semantic trickery to avoid stepping on that political third rail, the tax hike.

Stymied by Stimulus?

The stimulus money increased funding for education last session. But can the state keep it up next session without more federal money?

Math Anxiety

Will there be enough money to cover the current state budget? "Fortunately, it's too early to tell," jokes House Speaker Joe Straus. He and other state leaders are well aware of the numbers, and although they think it's not yet time to act, they're focused on the big question.