Thursday, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his updated revenue estimate for the state of Texas. Previously the surplus estimate coming off of the most recent legislative session was around $8 billion. This estimate was updated in November of 2021 to be closer to $12 billion. In a House Appropriation Committee hearing on Tuesday, Comptroller Hegar said that the number he would reveal Thursday would be “Astounding” as we had reported earlier this week.
His announcement did not disappoint. In his latest update, he reported that the current unallocated dollars for the Texas budget is $26.95 billion. From the release:
“In a July 14 letter to state leadership, Hegar said the state will have $149.07 billion in GR-R funds available for general-purpose spending for the 2022-23 biennium, resulting in a projected fiscal 2023 ending balance of $26.95 billion, an increase of $14.95 billion from the November projected balance. The ending balance does not account for any 2022-23 supplemental appropriations the Legislature may make.”
This is both a historical number and potentially a dangerous one. With this amount of “free” money to spend, lawmakers are going to have to make some hard decisions. Are we going to use this money to continue to grow the government as we have in the past, or will our self-proclaimed “Conservative” lawmakers make good on their promises of smaller government and fiscal restraint?
Unfortunately, the most likely outcome for much of this projected surplus is that it will be spread around like that of a slush fund, enriching bureaucrats and agencies with money they plan on wasting at the expense of taxpayers. Lawmakers have an alternative, one that Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR), the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), and even Texas Governor Greg Abbott have come out in support of. Lawmakers can use all of this surplus money to pay down the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) compression rates and put us on a path to property tax elimination. The 2022 Republican Party of Texas platform was recently passed with language calling for this exact outcome.
How can you help? Go read the Texas Prosperity Plan for yourself and voice your support for banning taxpayer-funded lobbying, eliminating the property tax, and freezing state spending by signing up to support the TPP. Sign up for The Fiscal Note to keep up to date on all fiscal issues that affect Texans, especially our broken property tax system. We CAN put Texas on a path to fiscal sanity and future prosperity if we amplify our voices loud enough.