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State tax chief to brief TAB members on economic outlook

 - Register now for Jan. 26 meet-up with lawmakers

With the plunge in oil prices putting downward pressure on the Texas economy and state revenue projections, newly sworn-in state tax collector Glenn Hegar announced this week that lawmakers will have $113 billion to spend in the next two-year state budget. The sum includes $7.5 billion in surplus revenues generated in the current, robust budget cycle.

Sales tax revenue will comprise 55 percent of state revenues, signaling that the retail economy is the single biggest revenue driver.  Oil and gas production combined contributes 8.1 percent – well less than motor vehicle sales and other state tax sources. These measures reflect that the state’s economy is much more diverse than it was in past decades when crashes in oil prices caused regional recessions.

Oil is trading in the high $40’s now. Hegar’s projection is based on prices recovering to around $65 through the end of this fiscal year, then growing slightly to $70 for the following year.

While the revenue estimate is $18 billion greater than the state’s current two-year budget, it is uncertain to what degree the additional cash will accommodate lawmakers’ myriad campaign promises, including efforts to completely repeal the state’s main business tax crafted by outgoing Gov. Rick Perry.

Another top priority of incoming Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick includes alleviating the state’s overreliance on local property taxes to support public schools and basic services. Other lawmakers are angling to reduce the amount of tax revenues reserved for balancing the budget rather than going to the purposes for which they were collected.                                                                                                                          

Comptroller Hegar will keynote TAB’s biennial Legislative Day conference in Austin on Monday, Jan. 26, to brief stations on details of his economic forecast and what it means for business and for lawmakers’ ability to deliver much-needed improvements in core state services.

The event will also focus on TAB’s efforts to address an adverse state Supreme Court ruling hurting newsrooms and secure a clarification of state tax law regarding certain broadcast technology.

The highlight of the conference is the no-speech luncheon where lawmakers are seated with their constituent broadcasters. This format fosters discussion of how broadcasters and lawmakers can jointly advance their communities. Station owners, managers and news directors should attend.


Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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