Texas Comptroller Gives Legislature More Money to Spend

But don't go crazy y'all

Glenn Hegar in 2013
Glenn Hegar in 2013 (Photo by John Anderson)

Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the most normal dude in the state GOP leadership, kicked off the 2019 legislative frenzy Monday with the release of his Biennial Revenue Estimate – the amount of money that lawmakers cannot exceed in the new state budget. The magic number for the 2020-21 biennium is $119.1 billion, an 8.1% increase over his estimate from two years ago, as the state's tax collector reported healthy increases in sales tax revenue and levies on oil and gas production, motor vehicles and their fuels, and suchlike.

But don't go buy a new school system just yet! Hegar, as usual, sounded notes of caution in his BRE release, which for previous comptrollers has been an occasion for major grandstanding. "The Legislature will again face some difficult choices in balancing this budget," he said, citing both the need to close expected (Medicaid) and surprise (Harvey) shortfalls in the current biennium, as well as the inexorable pressure for "a potentially large boost in education spending to reduce the property tax burden and reform school finance."

That "large boost" could be only what's needed to plug the hole blasted into school funding by Gov. Greg Abbott's property tax "relief," or it could mean real new investment in education quality. In either event, it will likely involve going beyond the $119.1 billion BRE into the state's ever-bloating rainy day fund, which would grow to $15.4 billion by 2021 – even after voter-approved diversions for highway spending. This overstuffed mattress full of Texans' cash, just sitting there, clearly bothers Hegar, who's already gotten the Lege to let him invest some of it to at least keep up with inflation. This year, he continues his quest to create a "Texas Legacy Fund" to capitalize on the new energy boom, as long as it lasts, and build a permanent endowment that can generate higher returns to spend on, say, schools, or pensions. His plan already has support from both parties but still needs to make it through the legislative gauntlet.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More 86th Texas Legislature
Texas Rangers Get Wrangled Into
Texas Rangers Get Wrangled Into "Bonnenghazi" Drama
Scandal surrounding House Speaker Dennis Bonnen burns on

Mary Tuma, Aug. 16, 2019

Bonnenghazi! Drama Reigns in the Texas House
Bonnenghazi! Drama Reigns in the Texas House
Did the speaker give his hard-right enemy a political target list?

Mary Tuma, Aug. 9, 2019

More by Mike Clark-Madison
TribFest Recap: Liz Cheney Chooses To Go Out the Hard Way
TribFest Recap: Liz Cheney Chooses To Go Out the Hard Way
Scion of power learns the limits of 21st century politics

Sept. 25, 2022

TribFest: Oil Terminal Protest Interrupts Buttigieg’s Q&A (But He Doesn’t Mind)
TribFest: Oil Terminal Protest Interrupts Buttigieg’s Q&A (But He Doesn’t Mind)
Transport secretary: "I hear you" about Gulf Coast project

Sept. 23, 2022


86th Texas Legislature, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar, Biennial Revenue Estimate, BRE, school finance, rainy day fund, Texas Legacy Fund

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle