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With two days left in special session, Comptroller finds extra $196 million

August 15, 2017

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Tuesday delivered some welcome news to weary state lawmakers: Their coffers should be richer than he previously anticipated. 

Citing an improving economic outlook, Hegar now projects the Legislature left more than $237 million in general revenue unspent during the legislative session — far more than the $41.5 million he projected in July, according to a letter he sent to state leaders. General revenue is the source of state revenue that lawmakers generally have the most control over. 

Hegar, a Republican, announced the revised revenue estimate with just two days left in the 30-day special session and as House and Senate leaders are in the middle of negotiations over a final deal on a school finance package that could include hundreds of millions in funding for public schools as well as more than $200 million for a health insurance program for retired teachers. 

Bolstered projections in collections of state franchise taxes — a levy on businesses that some Republicans have long sought to eliminate — played a key role in pushing up the revenue estimate, Hegar’s letter said. 

In January, ahead of the regular legislative session, Hegar gave lawmakers a dour revenue estimate, telling them they had $104.87 billion in state funds at their disposal in crafting the next two-year budget, a 2.7 percent decrease from his estimate ahead of the legislative session two years ago. Lawmakers ended up passing a budget of more than $200 billion that used the vast majority of those state funds as well as federal funding and tapping the state’s savings account for $1 billion and employing an accounting trick for an additional $2.5 billion. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/15/texas-comptroller-hegar-lawmakers-left-extra-money-bank/.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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