Texas Comptroller releases budget for lawmakers

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

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Posted on January 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 7 at 5:42 PM

AUSTIN -- The numbers are out. Texas lawmakers now know what sort of budget they're looking at for the new legislative session.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs presented the Biennial Revenue Estimate Monday morning. According to her report the state is looking at a bigger budget than the last session. It's projected to have $101.4 billion available during the 2014-2015 biennium for general-purpose spending.
 
Combs credits an uptick in general revenue for the bigger budget. She cites a rise in employment numbers. According to the charts Texas is out of the pitfall of the recession and is continuing to recover. It's a far different, and Combs argues brighter, picture in Texas than in other parts of the country.
 
“Our employment [is] coming back up. We not only recovered the jobs we lost, we picked up another [$258,000]. If you're some place else and you only recovered half, that is a very, very different financial picture. That does have sort of an affect on peoples' moods across the country,” said Combs.
 
Combs estimates job growth will continue to rise in Texas. She predicts another 232,000 jobs this year and even more in 2014 and 2015.
 
With employment rising, other sectors are also bouncing back, including the housing market. It was one of the hardest hit during the recession, but Combs says building permits are going up. About 75,000 are expected to be filed this year.
 
With revenue on the rise, lawmakers will have more spending flexibility in the next session. However despite the good news, Combs is urging lawmakers be cautious. She said conditions are still volatile.
 
“We must be mindful of factors that cast a shadow over our economy,” explained Combs.
 
She cites the economic troubles in Europe and says the Chinese economy has also slowed.
 
“The federal government remains gridlocked across a number of issues. Economic and regulatory uncertainty, including the possibility of increased taxation, can delay purchasing decisions by businesses and households,” added Combs.
 
Combs is urging lawmakers to make "careful budget considerations."
 
The full Biennial Revenue Estimate is available on the Comptroller's website.

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