Christmas decorations are being hung, football playoffs are heating up, and we’re finally seeing some colder weather across East Texas. As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of this Christmas season, let’s pause to remember our fellow Americans who were viciously attacked at Pearl Harbor 76 years ago. We are forever indebted to the men and women who fought during World War II to preserve the American way of life and the freedoms we still enjoy today. With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol in Austin. . .
Growth in the Texas Economy
The first few months of our state’s new fiscal year show promising signs for the economic condition of the State of Texas. In fact, our Texas Comptroller is reporting three consecutive months of growth in sales tax revenue – the largest source of state derived revenue for the Texas budget. In November alone, state sales tax revenue totaled $2.78 billion, which is over 11 percent more than in November 2016. With the holiday season in full swing, Texans should expect a fourth consecutive month of growth in consumer spending to go along with increased collections from the oil and natural gas sectors.
Sustaining this growth for an extended period of time is critically important to fulfilling the needs of our growing state, which becomes home to over 1,000 new Texans each day and which just experienced a massive natural disaster with Hurricane Harvey. Whether from growing sales taxes, increased oil and gas activity, the nearly $600 billion our ports experience in international trade, or any other form of revenue, Texans should not overlook the fact we are blessed to live in a state with a growing economy.
With such growth in jobs and population, it is essential that we continue to provide infrastructure for our ever-growing state. One tool we use to provide new construction, maintenance, and right-of-way acquisition for roads and bridges is the State Highway Fund. Just last month, Comptroller Hegar completed transfer of over $730 million into the fund from excess oil and natural gas production tax revenues – a transfer made possible by the overwhelming passage of a November 2014 Constitutional Amendment. The other half of the excess tax revenue went to the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) – a savings account, if you will, to be used in times of emergency. The current balance of the ESF is $10.98 billion – the largest account of its kind in the United States.