State Budget Certified, Governor Ready to Sign

Comptroller lauds the Legislature for passing education and property tax reforms but notes that long-term liability concerns continue to put downward pressure on the state’s credit rating

 

June 11, 2019

 

The governor’s signature is all that’s needed for the new Texas biennial budget to become law.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar has certified the general appropriations act approved by the legislature — House Bill 1 with more than $250 billion in spending for 2020-21 — and sent it to Governor Greg Abbott‘s desk.

Hegar said the act is certified based on the latest total state revenue projections, which included an added $518 million, but added that’s going to continue monitoring the economy for any possible additions or shortfalls.

The Texas economy has expanded at a “rapid pace” over the past 18 months, but must be tempered with an eye to the  “uncertainty in the global economy…as well as increasing unpredictability surrounding international trade policy at the federal level,” which could have a dampening effect on future revenues, Hegar said.

He lauded the Legislature for passing education and property tax reforms but also noted that long-term liability concerns continue to put downward pressure on the state’s credit rating.
“I want to congratulate the Legislature on a very productive session,” Hegar said. “The state made important progress on some key issues affecting our state. I’m proud to certify this budget and send it on to Gov. Abbott for final approval.”

HB 1 is certified based on the most recent total revenue projection released in May, which includes an upward revision of $518 million and accounts for the passage of online marketplace legislation, which added approximately $550 million in additional sales tax revenue.

Hegar pledged to continue to monitor the Texas economy, noting that it has expanded at a rapid pace over the last 18 months.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in Texas over the last year and a half, which allowed lawmakers to make historic investments in education and provide much-needed property tax relief,” Hegar added. “Uncertainty in the global economy, however, as well as increasing unpredictability surrounding international trade policy at the federal level, may have dampening effects on the Texas economy in the coming years.”

The Legislature also addressed some key long-term concerns that Hegar has highlighted in recent years, such as teacher pensions and healthcare. But

“As I prepare our cash flow analysis ahead of my annual visit to New York to meet with representatives from the credit rating agencies, some key obligations will continue to require legislative attention in future sessions,” Hegar said. “We anticipate the Employees Retirement System pensions, ongoing costs associated with Medicaid and the future healthcare needs of teachers to remain in focus when lawmakers return in two years.”