TXFiscal - independent analysis of the state of Texas revenue and expenditures

Want to see regular, independent, objective analyses of Texas state revenue and expenditures along with other articles on state finance problems and solutions? Beginning today, you can. TXFISCAL will allow anyone access to a monthly/bimonthly analysis of state revenue and expenditures. There'll also be other reports dealing with other aspects of state finance and how it will affect the every day Texan. Additionally, readers will have access to the data underlying the reports so they can create their own analysis or draw related charts.


March 18 -- To Increase by How Much, That Is the Question

March 18 To Increase by How Much, That Is the Question. - Both state tax collections and total revenue continue to increase at a rate substantially greater than in the Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE) released by the Comptroller’s Office on December 12, 2013. The growth rate in total state tax collections is over three times more than predicted in the CRE. If this growth continues, Texans should expect that tax collections in FY14 will bring in $1.5 billion more than the current estimate. Over 60 percent the increase in tax collections comes from the ever increasing severance tax collections, which will increase transfers to the Rainy Day Fund and State Highway Fund. We should expect that around $1.8 billion will be transferred to each of these funds in FY15.

While the 83th Legislature did increase the state's appropriation for public education, the growth in state expenditures for public education has been minimal, only 1.4 percent, as improving tax collections for local school districts has resulted in overpayments to 887 districts nearing $900 million.

Feb. 19 -- The Uptick Continues

Feb. 19 The Uptick Continues. - Both state tax collections and total revenue continue to increase at a rate substantially greater than in the Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE) released by the Comptroller’s Office on December 12, 2013. The growth rate in total state tax collections is almost three times more than predicted in the CRE. If this growth continues, Texans should expect that tax collections in FY14 will bring in $2 billion more than the current estimate. Almost half the increase in tax collections comes from the ever increasing severance tax collections, which will increase transfers to the Rainy Day Fund and State Highway Fund. We should expect that around $1.8 billion will be transferred to each of these funds in FY15.

Dec. 18 -- State Revenue and Expenditures – Déjà vu All Over Again

Dec. 18 - - Deja Vu All Over Again. -With the close of the State's fiscal year and release of the Certification Revenue Estimate, we can compare actual YTD collections with the revised estimate. Continuing with a conservative fiscal outlook, tax collections are estimated to increase by 2.4 percent in FY14 compared to actual YTD tax collections increasing by 6.9 percent. Should this differential continue, tax collections in FY14 should be almost $2 billion more than in the CRE.

If tax revenue growth continues through FY15 at a comparable growth rate experienced so far this year, biennium tax revenue will be over $102 billion. Given this increase in tax collections, the 84th Legislature will have a "surplus" of over $5 billion when they meet in January 2015.

Nov. 10 -- A Billion Here, A Billion There, Are We Talking Real Money?

Nov. 10 - A Billion Here, A Billion There, Are We Talking Real Money? - Two months into FY14, both state collections and total revenue are exceeding the current revenue estimate. Tax collections through October increased by 7.5 percent compared to FY13, while total state revenue increased by 5.2 percent. Both these growth rates exceed the current estimated growth rate for FY14.

If tax revenue growth continues through FY14 at the 7.5 percent rate experienced so far this year, state tax revenue for FY14 will be over $50 billion. Given this increase in tax collections and continued growth in FY15, the 84th Legislature will have the largest GR balance in history, exceeding the 8.0 billion GR balance in FY07.

Sept. 25 - FY13 Cash Balance = $5.5 Billion - The close of the state’s fiscal year showed significant improvement in the state’s fiscal condition. Taxes collections exceed the Comptroller’s estimate for FY13, while state expenditures again declined. The result of increasing revenues and declining expenditures resulted in the cash balance (revenue – expenditures) of the state being $5.5 billion, the largest cash balance experienced this century.

Also contributing to the improved cash balance for the state was that total expenditures declined by $700 million from FY12 expenditures. The cuts to public education (2.1 billion) allowed for increases in other state expenditures, while allowing overall expenditures to decline.

The improved revenue situation for the state will show a $2.5 billion transfer to the Rainy Day Fund in November and when the Certification Estimate is released in December an ending certification balance of at least $3.5 billion.

August 18 - Like the Phoenix, the Estimate Will Rise - With the Comptroller’s recent announcement that severance tax collections for FY13 were $900 million greater than in the January estimate and that "$683.1 million, of an estimated $100.7 billion available for general-purpose spending, remains unappropriated," one would have expected funding for water and transportation to be just a matter of increasing appropriations. That was not to be and voters will have a twofer to vote for increased spending for water and for transportation. While participatory democracy is desirable, it was not necessary when funding for these projects were or would be available in the FY14-15 biennium.

Should tax revenue continue to increase at the rate experienced so far this year, one would expect tax revenue to be over $500 million more than in the current estimate for this year and at least $5.0 billion more for the FY14-15 biennium. The state should also expect that the transfer to the Rainy Day Fund for next biennium to be over $1.0 billion more than in the current estimate.

These increases in revenue would have provided the legislature the necessary revenue to fund both the $2 billion in additional funding for both water projects and for TxDOT. It would also have allowed for an increase in funding for public education.

P.S. Be sure to click the Revenue Estimate staff link in the article.

July 18 -- Old Man Money Just Keeps Rolling In

July 18 - Old Man Money Just Keeps Rolling In - With the release of June revenue and expenditure data we now, with almost perfect certainty, should have the Comptroller increase the BRE. With tax collections increasing faster than estimated we should expect an additonal $1.2 billion for this fiscal year. Given the estimated 1.9 percent increase in tax collections in FY14, we should expect a substantial revision as this rate of growth has only occurred eight (8) times in the last 52 years. According to the BRE, the estimated growth rate for the Texas economy for FY14 is 3.4 percent, the same rate as this fiscal year, but the estimated growth in tax collections in FY14 (1.9 percent) is about one-fourth the current growth rate of 8.1 percent, and about one-third the BRE rate of growth (5.4 percent) in FY13 tax collections. With reasonable changes to the estimate, one should expect an estimated ending certification balance of $105.6 billion in FY15 and a total Rainy Day Fund transfer of $5.3 billion, a $1.6 billion increase from the current estimate.

June 19 -- What Ought to Be: Certifiable Balance Should Be Increased

June 19 - What Ought to Be: Certifiable Balance Should Be Increased - With the release of May revenue and expenditure data we now, with great certainty, should have the Comptroller revise the BRE. With tax collections increasing faster than estimated we should expect an additonal $1.4 billion for this fiscal year. Given the estimated 1.9 percent increase in tax collections in FY14, we should expect a substantial revision as this rate of growth has only occurred eight (8) times in the last 52 years. According to the BRE, the estimated growth rate for the Texas economy for FY14 is 3.4 percent, the same rate as this fiscal year, but the estimated growth in tax collections in FY14 (1.9 percent) is about one-fourth the current growth rate of 8.3 percent, and about one-third the BRE rate of growth (5.4 percent) in FY13 tax collections. With reasonable changes to the estimate, one should expect an estimated ending certification balance of $105.6 billion in FY15 and a total Rainy Day Fund transfer of $5.3 billion, a $1.6 billion increase from the current estimate.

May 15 -- To Increase or Not To Increase, Is No Longer the Question

May 15 - Dollars for Roads and Higher Ed With sine die 10 days aways, state tax collections through April continue to increase at a rate over 50 percent greater than the rate in the current biennial revenue estimate (BRE). We also observe that year-to-date state expenditures have declined by 4.4 percent.

While FY13 tax collections are not increasing at a double digit rate, the year-to-date increase at a rate almost 3 percentage points greater than in the BRE. The growth estimate for FY14 shows tax collections will be increasing by only 1.9 percent, a rate experienced only eight (8) times in the last 52 years. According to the BRE, the estimated growth rate for the Texas economy for FY14 is 3.4 percent, the same rate as this fiscal year, but the estimated growth in tax collections in FY14 (1.9 percent) is about one-fourth the current growth rate of 8.3 percent, and about one-third the BRE rate of growth (5.4 percent) in FY13 tax collections.

Bottom-Line: Yes, the estimate should be increased, with an ending balance of $9.3 billion for FY13 and a balance of $104.4 billion for FY15.

April 18 -- To Increase or Not To Increase, That Is The Question

April 18 - To Increase or Not to Increase As we approach the end of the session one should be aware that state tax collections, through March, continue to increase at a rate over 60 percent greater than the rate in the current biennial revenue estimate (BRE). We also observe that year-to-date state expenditures have declined by 5.1 percent through March 2013.

While FY13 tax collections are not increasing at a double digit rate, the year-to-date increase at a rate over 3 percentage points greater than in the BRE. The growth estimate for FY14 shows tax collections will be increasing by only 1.9 percent, a rate experienced only eight (8) times in the last 52 years. According to the BRE, the estimated growth rate for the Texas economy for FY14 is 3.4 percent, the same rate as this fiscal year, but the estimated growth in tax collections in FY14 (1.9 percent) is about one-fourth the current growth rate of 8.6 percent, and about one-third the BRE rate of growth (5.4 percent) in FY13 tax collections.

Bottom-Line: Yes, the estimate should be increased, with an ending balance of $9.4 billion for FY13 and a balance of $110 $104 billion for FY15.

March 14 -- Fiscal Halftime – Taxes Up, Expenditures Down

March 14 - Fiscal Halftime State tax collections, through February, continue to increase at a rate over 50 percent greater than the rate in the current biennial revenue estimate (BRE), while year-to-date state expenditures have declined by 4.3 percent through February 2013.

With the release of February revenue and expenditure data we now have a better idea of the revision we might expect in the BRE. FY13 tax collections are increasing faster than estimated, while the estimate for FY14 shows tax collections will be increasing by only 1.9 percent, a rate experienced only eight (8) times in the last 52 years. According to the BRE, the estimated growth rate for the Texas economy for FY14 is 3.4 percent, the same rate as this fiscal year, but the estimated growth in tax collections in FY14 (1.9 percent) is about one-fourth the current growth rate of 8.4 percent, and about one-third the BRE rate of growth (5.4 percent) in FY13 tax collections.

Feb. 12 -- The 3R's - Revenue Remains Robust

Feb. 12 - The 3 R's The revenue and expenditure data through January indicate that the state is continuing its robust fiscal progress. Tax collections in FY13 continue to indicate an increase ($1.9 bil.) more than in the BRE. This increase will increase the ending balance (the “surplus”) to $10.1 billion. The transfer to the Rainy Day Fund will now exceed $2.3 billion in FY14, 40% more than in the estimate. While expenditures continue to decline, HB 10, the supplemental appropriation will both increase expenditures and federal receipts. We'll await the release of revenue and expenditure data for February before a more definitive statement on revising the revenue estimate..


Jan. 15 -- BRE Commentary, Taxes up $2.2 Billion, Surplus now $10.3 Billion

Jan. 15 - Commentary on BRE With the release of both the BRE and revenue and expenditure data through December, one is better able to evaluate and track the current revenue estimate. It would appear that tax collections in FY13 will be m $2.2 bil more than in the BRE. This increase will increase the “surplus” to $10.3 billion. The transfer to the Rainy Day Fund will now exceed $2.3 billion in FY14, 40% more than in the estimate. Expenditures continue to decline. According to our leadership, more revenue and lower expenditures should result in an austere budget.


Jan. 7 -- BRE Released, Surplus = $8.8 Billion

Jan. 7 - The Comptroller's release of the Biennial Revenue Estimate for 2014-2015 showed significant growth in both tax collections and total revenue for FY13 and moderate growth for FY14-15. This resulted in a state surplus of $8.8 billion for FY13. Tax collections for FY14-15 are expected to increase by 7.0 percent compared to the 22.0 percent increase for the current biennium. Total state revenue for the current biennium is estimated at $197.1 billion, an 8.5 percent increase over the FY10-11 biennium. The Comptroller's forecasts growth declining to 5.6 percent for the FY14-15 biennium, with revenue at $208.2 billion.

While the Comptroller's estimate of the surplus ($8.8 billion) was spot-on, it would appear that her growth estimate (7.0 percent) for tax collections for FY14-15 is markedly less than what the growth rate the state has expeienced since September 2010. Stories on the estimate are available in News and Articles .


Jan. 1 -- Have a good New Year.


Dec. 16 -- The State Surplus, Almost $9 Billion

Dec. 16 - With the release of the revenue and expenditure data for November, the state’s fiscal situation continues to realize double-digit growth in tax collections. This should result in a state surplus of almost $9 billion. Total state revenue is also increasing at a rate far in excess of the current revenue estimate, while state expenditures continue to decline.

Analysis of state revenue for the 1st quarter of FY13 indicates probable tax collections of $48.3 billion, over $4 billion more than revenue collected in FY12 and over $8 billion more than in the current revenue estimate. Comptroller Susan Combs will release a revised biennial revenue estimate in January for the start of the 83rd Legislative session. The Comptroller's current estimate for tax collections in the current biennium is $80.6 billion. Her estimate in January should show tax collections near $92 billion for this biennium and around $108 billion for the FY14-15 biennium. With the increased revenue for this biennium, one should expect a SURPLUS (“Ending Certification Balance”) for FY13 of near $9 billion. .


Nov. 30 -- The Rovian Revolution Revisited, if Perry had won

Nov. 30 - With the effort for Texas to secede, I thought it might be useful to see what might have transpired if "the Karl" and others had devoted their considerable resources and effort behind Governor Perry. With their resources and brillance I'm quite sure the Governor would have resided on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January. By implementing his Texas magic on the U.S., the Rovian Revolution would have been realized. Using this analysis as a base, one can determine what would happen to U.S. socioeconomic conditions were Texas to secede.


BILLION$ and BILLION$, the Coming Legislative Session

Oct. 20 - Initial analysis of state revenue for FY13 indicates probable tax collections of $48 billion, almost $4 billion more than revenue collected in FY12 and over $8 billion more than in the current revenue estimate. Comptroller Susan Combs will release a revised biennial revenue estimate in January for the start of the 83rd Legislative session. The Comptroller's current estimate for tax collections in the current biennium is $80.6 billion. Her estimate in January will likely show tax collections near $91 billion, an increase of 13 precent over her last projections for this biennium, and around $108 billion for the FY14-15 biennium.

This projected increase in tax collections for the current biennium should provide more than enough funds to address both the public education and Medicaid adjustments enacted by lawmakers in May 2011. While there should be available general revenue to cover the adjustments, the spending limit only allows an additional $6.9 billion in appropriations for this biennium. A future analysis will provide legislators a path to address this constraint.