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.