Comptroller Glenn Hega
Comptroller Glenn Hegar unveiled his revised fiscal forecast Tuesday. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / Texas Tribune

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Tuesday dropped a half-billion dollar gift into the laps of budget negotiators.

The news comes as a relief to legislative budget-writers, who are in the midst of closed-door meetings about how much state lawmakers should spend on public schools, property tax cuts and thousands of other line items in their two-year budget.

Lawmakers will have an additional $518 million to spend on public programs thanks to more robust tax collections, according to a revised fiscal forecast Hegar unveiled in a letter to Texas’ Republican leadership.

“Some of the increased revenue projected for fiscal 2019 is attributable to upwardly revised estimates of oil and natural gas production taxes,” Hegar wrote. As a result, the state’s oil-fed savings account, also known as the rainy day fund, is expected to grow by nearly $300 million in additional revenue.

The revised revenue estimate comes on top of a relatively rosy prediction Hegar made in January about the state’s tax collections over the next two years. At the time, the comptroller — who oversees the state treasury and is charged with predicting volatile state revenues so that lawmakers can craft a state budget that spans two years into the future — thought state coffers would end the fiscal year on Aug. 31 with about $4.2 billion in the bank. Tuesday’s revision brings that figure to $4.7 billion.

Hegar also noted in his letter that lawmakers are likely to grow the state’s treasury by another $550 million if they pass a bill to streamline online sales tax collections on out-of-state sellers.

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Edgar Walters, The Texas Tribune

Edgar Walters, The Texas Tribune

Edgar Walters covers health care for The Texas Tribune, where he started as an intern in September 2013. When not in the newsroom or at the Capitol, he can be found on the volleyball court, where he stands...