Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has revised the certification revenue estimate (CRE), announcing better-than-expected revenue growth in Fiscal 2018 and an improved economic outlook for Fiscal 2019. Hegar said the state will have $110.17 billion in general revenue-related funds available for general purpose spending for the 2018-19 biennium, resulting in a projected Fiscal 2019 ending balance of $2.67 billion, an increase from the $94 million ending balance projected in the October 2017 CRE.“An economic expansion exceeding our expectations from last year has resulted in revenue collections this fiscal year outpacing CRE projections,” Hegar said. “Texas in particular benefited from rising oil prices and production and the consequent increase in economic activity. The best ongoing indicator of the robust Texas economy is the state’s rate of job growth. Texas added more than 350,000 new jobs in the 12 months ending in May 2018, and the state’s unemployment rate has been at or near historic lows in recent months.”
Through June of Fiscal 2018, sales and use tax collections, Texas’ largest source of state tax revenue, are up 10 percent from June of Fiscal 2017. The comptroller increased the sales tax revenue projection for Fiscal 2018 by more than $1.2 billion.
Total tax collections through June, buoyed in part by oil and natural gas production tax collections exceeding last year’s totals by more than 50 percent, are up 11.8 percent compared to a year ago. Total general revenue-related collections are up 9.8 percent compared to last year.
Proposition 7, an amendment to the Texas Constitution approved by Texas voters in 2015, provides that the first $2.5 billion in sales tax collections exceeding $28 billion in any fiscal year be deposited to the State Highway Fund. Sales tax collections in Fiscal 2018 are likely to exceed $30.5 billion, meaning that Hegar will allocate the full $2.5 billion to the highway fund from Fiscal 2018 collections.
The Economic Stabilization Fund (the state’s “Rainy Day Fund”) and the State Highway Fund both receive funding from oil and natural gas severance taxes. In November 2017, Hegar deposited $734 million in each of those funds. Hegar estimates a deposit of $1.37 billion in each fund in November 2018, up from the October CRE estimate of $777 million. The stabilization fund will have a balance of $11.85 billion at the end of fiscal 2019, the largest ending balance in the fund’s history.
“Though nearly all current economic indicators remain positive and revenue collections have exceeded our previous expectations, there are significant risks to the forecast,” Hegar said. “A trade war, a withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement, or a significant downturn in the price of oil would reduce our potential economic growth. The current outlook, however, is for continued growth through Fiscal 2019 for both the economy and state revenue.”