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Despite Budget Hit Hard By Coronavirus, Comptroller Says Texas Will Fulfill School Funding Commitments

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - From stores, to restaurants, travel and the energy sectors, North Texas residents know all too well that very little of the state's economy has been spared by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It's also impacting the state budget, and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar says it's hard to know how soon we will rebound.

"Every revenue estimate has clouds of uncertainty, but this one has greater uncertainty than any before just because there's so many unknowns with Covid-19."

Hegar announced budget projections this week showing Texas will go from having a nearly $3 billion surplus to a nearly $4.6 billion shortfall by the end of the two-year budget cycle in August 2021.

He says during this same period, the state will have $11.6 billion less in general revenues to spend.

The state's savings account, known as the rainy day fund, will shrink from nearly $9.4 billion to nearly $8.8 billion.

Last year, the state legislature committed to spending billions of dollars more on public schools and relying less on property taxes.

Hegar said despite the gloomy news, the state has the money to fulfill that promise.

"The legislature has enough tools under the current estimates to be able to make and keep all the commitments that they made last legislative session in this budget. I do know that legislative leadership and most of the members that I've talked to, they're very committed to maintaining the public education commitments that they made last legislative session."

One bright spot in the budget Hegar said is online sales, which have been able to continue through the pandemic.

During the last session, Hegar said he worked with lawmakers to make sure the state received sales tax revenues from online purchases.

"As we transition so much more of our purchases from in store bricks and mortar to online that has helped Texas in a much better situation than some of the other states around the nation."

Not included in the state's budget projections are the spending cuts Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen directed state agencies to make earlier this year.

Hegar said they will amount to as much as $1.2 billion in savings.

Congress may also send Texas and other states billions of dollars in additional coronavirus relief.

Hegar said Texas is better off than many other states this year.

"Those that are much more based on tourism industry and or based on manufacturing industry that had been impacted more than Texas because overall, Texas does have a very diverse economy, much more so than we have been in many decades prior."

But next year, he said the volatility in the state's oil and gas industry may push the state behind others.

"Next year, we do think Texas is probably going to lag behind the national average because of that double headwind."


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