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From the Desk of Glenn Hegar

The Certification Revenue Estimate

CRE cover

October 17, 2017

A few days ago, my office fulfilled one of its key statutory responsibilities by releasing the Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE), which lays out in detail the estimates we used to certify the Legislature's appropriations for the next two state fiscal years.

The CRE revises our Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE), released before each regular session of the Legislature, to reflect the impact of new laws passed during the session and the latest economic data, and to report final revenue numbers for the fiscal year that ended on Aug. 31.

The CRE raises our BRE estimate of revenues available for general spending in 2018 and 2019 from $104.9 billion to about $107.3 billion, due largely to legislation approved in 2017. This amount will fully fund the budget enacted by the 85th Legislature with an estimated $94 million in certification revenue remaining at the end of the biennium. We expect the state's Economic Stabilization Fund — the "rainy day fund" — and the State Highway Fund (SHF) to each receive $734 million from general revenue in 2018, and $777 million each in fiscal 2019, due to a modest increase in oil prices and severance tax collections.

In addition, the SHF should receive about $2.3 billion in September 2018, the first month of fiscal 2019, through a transfer of sales tax revenue required by a 2015 constitutional amendment intended to increase transportation funding. About $920 million in sales tax revenue will be transferred to the fund in August 2019, the last month of fiscal 2019, and nearly $1.6 billion in September 2019, the first month of fiscal 2020.

The new CRE largely reflects our economic outlook in the BRE. We expect steady economic growth for Texas during the next two years, at a rate faster than the nation's. Our forecast does, however, reflect some uncertainty concerning the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

We expect only a brief slowdown in the economy due to hurricane damage, but its costs to state government are harder to pin down right now. Some state agencies provided us with estimates of their Harvey-related costs, and federal aid we can expect to help defray them, but it's still too early for others. It may be months before we have a full picture of Harvey's effect on state spending. 

Soon, we'll be releasing a special edition of Fiscal Notes providing our first estimates of the economic effects of Hurricane Harvey, so please check back with us.

You can read our press release on the CRE, or examine the entire document.

As always, I encourage you to keep up with our office via Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Certifying Texas' 2018-19 Budget

June 2, 2017

The 2017 regular session of the Texas Legislature was contentious and occasionally chaotic — but then, they often are. As a former legislator myself, I know how hard preparing the state's biennial budget can be, and how thankless the job can feel at times.

At the beginning of this session, I advised the members of the 85th Texas Legislature that the next budget would be tight, meaning the pressure to weigh and compromise on hundreds of competing needs would be particularly tough. But they rose to the challenge and met it.

Senate Bill 1 provides Texas with a budget of about $107 billion in certification-related funds for fiscal 2018 and 2019, an amount well within the Biennial Revenue Estimate. It's a conservative budget that maintains our traditional support for limited government. I certified the budget on June 1 and sent it to Governor Abbott for his consideration.

You can read our press release on the budget, and see a video about the signing.

As always, stay connected to Texas economic issues via our website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


A Better Way to Use the State's Rainy Day Fund

April 17, 2017

Most Texans know about our state's Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) — the famous "rainy day fund," the largest of its kind in the U.S., with a current balance exceeding $10 billion.

The ESF is funded primarily with oil and natural gas production taxes. Back in 1987, when the Legislature passed the constitutional amendment creating the fund, no one dreamed it would grow to its current size. At the time, all forecasts predicted a steady decline in Texas energy production, and that was largely the case for many years. But then came the fracking boom.

Unfortunately, state law creating the fund was written with a relatively small ESF in mind, one kept in highly liquid, low-yield investments that could be tapped immediately. But the end result is that today, Texas has billions earning a little more than 1 percent in interest. That isn't even keeping pace with inflation. To put it very mildly, it's not the best use of these funds.

That's why we've devised a better way. It would maintain the original intent of the ESF — as a reserve to support state services in an economic downturn — while allowing us to generate considerably more revenue for important public purposes.

We're proposing to split the ESF into two tiers. Tier 1, the Texas Stabilization Fund, would be required to maintain a balance equal to 8 percent of general revenue spending and would be managed in a conservative way that still protects its purchasing power against inflation. It would maintain a healthy reserve for protection against any disruption in state finances.

As long as the Texas Stabilization Fund contains the required reserve balance, any additional new dollars headed for the ESF would flow into a second tier, the Texas Legacy Fund, which would operate similar to a permanent endowment for the state. This Fund would achieve a higher rate of financial return that would yield additional investment revenue to address the state's long-term balance sheet needs.

I've spoken and written about these issues since I became comptroller — commitments for paying off state debt, deferred maintenance, state employee pensions and other obligations that are growing steadily, year after year. They've been allowed to persist despite the very real chance they could snowball, ultimately threatening the state's budget and credit rating.

I recently wrote an op-ed on this topic for the Texas Tribune. I'll also be discussing this idea before a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee on the afternoon of April 17; you can watch the hearing live on the House video page.

As always, stay connected to Texas economic issues via our website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Texas Ports of Entry: Gateways to the World

January 4, 2017

Those who follow this agency know I've spent some time visiting with Texans all over the state in what I've called our Good for Texas tours. On each tour, I meet with local business leaders, elected officials and community members to discuss various aspects of the Texas economy and how they affect us.

I just completed what we've called our "ports tour," highlighting a vital part of the state's economic mix — our 29 ports of entry, the places that knit our economy together with those of nations around the world. These ports include seaports, border crossings and major logistical facilities for air, rail and trucks, all of them handling the imports and exports that keep our economy strong.

Texas is a crossroads for world trade, with an international border, a long seacoast and a prime mid-continental location. As of 2015, we'd been the number-one exporting state for 14 years, and I have no doubt we'll keep that title for 2016. The vitality of Texas' international trade can be seen everywhere, from the Houston Ship Channel, the nation's busiest waterway, to the Laredo port of entry, whose five international bridges accommodate more than 2 million trucks and 3,600 trains each year.

We reap enormous advantages from world trade every day, and for the ports tour my agency has quantified those benefits.

We've found that Texas ports of entry accounted for nearly $650 billion in international trade in 2015. In all, that trade supports nearly 1.6 million Texas jobs and adds more than $224 billion to our gross state product. It's a vital part of the economy, and keeps it an essential destination for business and industry.

Our tour covered six of our most important ports of entry. Check out our website to see economic highlights on these ports, and check out our video to see a wrap-up of the tour.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to receive "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


New Data on Eminent Domain in Texas

construction zone

September 7, 2016

Eminent domain. It's one of the oldest and most controversial powers governments have, the power to seize or use private property for a "public good."

The Texas and federal constitutions both stipulate a landowner subject to eminent domain must be compensated — but that's not the same thing as having a say in the decision.

Of course, some use of eminent domain is inevitable and even essential. Without access to private land, we wouldn't have roads, sewers, electric power grids and pipelines. But a power this sweeping is one that should be watched very carefully indeed.

The number of entities with eminent domain powers has risen sharply over the years. Literally thousands of entities in Texas, both governments and private companies with delegated authority, claim some form of eminent domain power.

To get a better handle on the extent of eminent domain in Texas, my office assembled the first-ever online database of entities claiming this power in Texas. This week we're unveiling that database.

It contains more than 5,000 entities, including cities, counties, school districts, special-purpose districts, pipeline and energy companies, water supply corporations and other public and private entities. For each, you'll be able to view:

  • the entity's name and contact information;
  • the date upon which the entity claims to have been authorized to exercise eminent domain authority;
  • whether the entity filed a condemnation petition in calendar 2015;
  • the projects or purposes for which the entity holds eminent domain authority;
  • and the provisions of the law granting the entity authority.

This is clearly an area in which transparency is essential. Knowing who can use eminent domain is a first step to ensuring that this important but potentially oppressive power is used wisely and well.

For more information, please visit our online eminent domain database.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless.

Glenn Hegar


Strong Military Means a Strong Texas

militaryvideo

August 18, 2016

Last fall, I traveled on a Good for Texas Tour, visiting with people from every corner of our state to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of our local economies. This year, I went on the road again.

I've just returned from our Good for Texas Tour: Military Edition, which allowed me to visit nine military bases across the state. As our state's chief financial officer, I made the trip to share the good news about Texas' long-standing commitment to the military, unveiling a study from my office that highlights the profound economic benefits our state derives from hosting these facilities.

It was an enlightening and often moving experience. The military's first and foremost goal is our national security, and I was proud and grateful to meet people who've dedicated their lives to keeping our nation and our institutions safe. And it was easy to see the mutually beneficial relationship between our military installations and nearby communities. The armed services employ thousands of civilian Texans — directly and through contractors — and keep local economies humming with their demand for supplies and services.

Our study found that the 15 major military installations located in Texas generate $136.6 billion in economic activity here each year, and add $81.4 billion to our gross domestic product. They also generate $48.1 billion in personal income annually.

In all, the military helps support more than 800,000 Texas jobs. It's an important part of a strong, diverse and growing Texas economy. Check out the video we produced to see a wrap-up of the tour.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Texas Supreme Court Decision Saves State Billions

oil field  worker

June 24, 2016

A recent ruling from the state's Supreme Court addressed a long dispute concerning Texas taxes — and taxpayers should be happy about it.

Like many important legal cases, Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar, concerned some fairly arcane issues. Basically, it turned on whether a Texas sales tax exemption for manufacturing machinery and equipment applied, as claimed by the plaintiffs, to certain items used to bring oil and gas to the earth's surface.

The state contended that pumping oil and gas from underground reservoirs isn't actual manufacturing of oil and gas, and that the equipment does not qualify for the manufacturing exemption.

The court agreed.

The favorable court ruling in the closely watched Southwest Royalties case means that Texas won't be on the hook for billions of dollars in immediate tax refunds as well as hundreds of millions annually thereafter. That kind of financial loss could have made the 2017 legislative session extremely difficult.

I'm a great supporter of the Texas oil and gas industry, and I'm keenly aware of the many positive effects it's had on our economy. But as Comptroller, my duty is to follow the letter of the law. That was our position in this case — and it will be going forward, too.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Ringing the Bell for Texas

comptroller ringing nasdaq bell

April 29, 2016

On a recent trip to New York City, I was delighted to be asked to ring the closing bell at Nasdaq, the world's second-largest equities exchange. It's a ritual that signifies the daily end of trading in companies valued at nearly $9 trillion. You can see a video of the ceremony and additional photos at Nasdaq's website.

Since its creation in 1971, Nasdaq has become almost synonymous with technology firms, although many other industries are represented among the 3,100-plus companies traded there. It was the first exchange to introduce electronic trading, and today represents giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google.

I'm proud to say that Texas companies have a large and rapidly growing share of the action at Nasdaq, such as Texas Instruments, which has nearly $60 billion in equities on offer. In all, companies from our state contribute nearly $196 billion to the market's total present value, and the number of Texas IPOs tied to Nasdaq is growing by an average of more than 50 percent annually.

But I'm also happy to see how Texas' participation in Nasdaq showcases our increasing diversity. Energy, our traditional mainstay, accounts for about a fifth of Texas companies listed on Nasdaq, but finance is nearly as important, and technology, health care and consumer services all account for substantial shares as well.

In all, it's an impressive demonstration of the sheer variety and ingenuity of Texas business, a diversity that has greatly added to the resilience of our economy — and is keeping us growing despite depressed energy prices.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


The Work Never Ends

image of cpa staff

March 17, 2016

Here at the Texas Comptroller's office, we've just gone through our busiest time of the year, the January tax-filing deadline, when monthly, quarterly and annual returns all come due on the same day. It's a deluge — more than 395,000 electronic returns in a month and 85,000 on the last day alone!

It's just one 24/7 job among many for our agency, which manages the finances of the nation's second-largest state and the world's 12th-largest economy.

We recently made a video about our workload here to highlight the hundreds of dedicated Comptroller employees it takes to pursue our missions — and to do so at the lowest possible cost.

Our work never ends — and neither do our efforts to work more efficiently. That's as it should be.

Watch for more videos soon, highlighting the divisions and the people who make the Comptroller's office the best state agency in Texas.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Announcing Transparency Stars

texas transparency logo

March 4, 2016

Information is the most basic requirement for any free nation. Democracy can't survive and thrive unless citizens have the information they need to make informed decisions at the voting booth, and to hold those they elect accountable for their actions.

The Texas Comptroller's office is a national leader in the movement for greater government transparency, putting oceans of state and local financial data on the Web for all to see and use. Today, I'm proud to announce another step, a new program from our office that will highlight local government transparency efforts around our state — the Transparency Stars.

Transparency Stars will honor cities, counties and other local governments that go the extra mile in opening their books to the public. They can use our online application to apply for recognition in five important transparency areas.

Those that earn an initial star for basic financial transparency — for milestones such as online financial reports, budgets and audit results — will be able to go on and seek additional recognition in the categories of contracts and procurement, economic development, bond debt and public pensions, for stars in up to five areas.

Our selections will emphasize the importance of making transparency data user-friendly, with graphics, visualizations and downloadable datasets. Government data can be daunting without the tools and context needed to interpret it.

For more information on the program, including guidelines and qualification criteria, please visit our Transparency Stars website.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Oil Prices and the Economy: A Talk with Todd Staples

February 4, 2016

During my first year in office, I held a Good for Texas tour, participating in town hall meetings across the state. I spoke with hundreds of Texans to find out what really matters — to learn what you think about our finances, our economy and our common future.

This year, I want to keep the dialogue going. Right now, everyone's talking about the energy industry and the ongoing plunge in oil prices, which is reverberating in Texas and around the world. That's why I asked Todd Staples, former Texas commissioner of Agriculture and now president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, to sit down and discuss what the price decline means for Texas' economy and its industries.

You can catch a video of our discussion online.

We're in turbulent times for oil and gas, no question. Saudi Arabia is gambling that keeping prices at rock bottom will kill off the American shale revolution, and there's no doubt that we're feeling the effects.

But the genie's not going back into the bottle. The brains and technological innovations that renewed the American energy industry aren't going anywhere.

When prices rise again, so will Texas oil production — as long as we stay true to the free-market principles that encouraged the shale boom in the first place.

I hope you'll find my talk with Mr. Staples interesting, and get some new perspective on where one of our state's major industries is headed.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Giving, and Giving Thanks

December 23, 2015

In this season, we naturally think of giving — and of giving back, in gratitude for the blessings life has given us. The folks here at the Comptroller's office are among the most generous people I know.

It's not just during Christmas and the holidays, either. Throughout the year, Comptroller employees devote thousands of hours of personal time as well as their own money to causes that help those less fortunate. From Meals on Wheels to scholarships for deserving students, members of the Comptroller family are working for Texans every day and every week of the year. I'm deeply proud of their efforts. You can see a brief video that illustrates a small part of what Comptroller volunteers do, and who they're helping.

On a lighter note, my executive staff and I appear in a little video greeting card for our employees. It's one way we can say thanks for all they do

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Time to Renew Your Ag/Timber Exemption

ag timber tree

December 10, 2015

As a farmer myself, working land that's been in my family for generations, I know that agriculture is a tough and time-consuming business — and one that doesn't always leave you with a lot of time to think about paperwork.

That's why I want to remind you about an important upcoming deadline.

Under state law, agricultural and timber producers can claim sales tax exemptions for some items they use to produce products for sale. My office issues registration numbers for these exemptions. If you're in farming, ranching or timber, it's time to renew your registration with us.

All ag/timber registration numbers are expiring on Dec. 31, 2015, regardless of when they were issued. If you claim this important exemption, and you haven't already renewed your registration, you need to do so now if you want to keep it.

To continue claiming the exemption, you can renew with us by phone, online or by mail. You can get detailed information on renewals through our website or by calling toll-free 1-844-AG RENEW (1-844-247-3639).

Don't miss out!

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to continue receiving "From the Desk of" emails, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Good for Texas Tour Wraps Up

Good for Texas town hall tour

November 17, 2015

After one final stop in El Paso on Nov. 9, I've wrapped up our Good for Texas town hall tour for 2015.

The tour gave me an opportunity to visit with hundreds of folks in communities all over our diverse state. We talked about economic issues, but more importantly, I had the chance to listen to people with first-hand knowledge of the opportunities and challenges facing their own communities. After 6,500 miles and 28 cities in two months, I'll admit, I'm a little road-weary. But I'm also exhilarated. On the road, you really get a sense of what Texans stand for — and what they won't stand for. I've never felt better about our people and our future.

Texans are a confident, can-do breed. Despite the energy slowdown, Texas continues to prosper, providing the nation with one of its main sources of economic growth. Our finances are in good shape; we're meeting our obligations and paving the way for steady, broad-based expansion.

Check out the video we produced to see a wrap-up of the tour.

A state as big as Texas includes a huge variety of landscapes, resources, communities, industries — and challenges. One of the hits of our tour was our focus on regional economies, and our "snapshots" highlighting key economic metrics for each region. While the tour has ended, the dialogue we built together continues. We'll regularly update the Regional Snapshots on our website and expand the coverage we have to dig deeper into regional economic issues. We encourage you to keep checking back for new offerings as we monitor and report on the economic health of our regions and state.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. If you'd like to receive emails announcing these "From the Desk of" updates, add your email address to the list.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Save Time and Money with Webfile

video image of taxzilla

October 31, 2015

Since my first day as Comptroller, I've tried to make better customer service a central theme of my administration. The people and businesses that remit taxes to our agency are absolutely essential to the operation of vital state programs, and we want to make the process as easy and painless as possible for them.

To that end, I'd like to remind you of our online tool, Webfile, which allows you to pay and report taxes to us electronically. Webfile saves you time, postage and paper, and makes our end of things run more smoothly as well. Whether it's sales tax, franchise taxes or more than two dozen other taxes and fees we collect, you can use Webfile to settle accounts with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To learn more about Webfile and sign up to use it, view a quick video introduction to the Webfile signup process. And, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, we've released some monster-themed videos promoting Webfile — check them out!

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


The Certification Revenue Estimate

CRE Capitol Picture

October 13, 2015

As you may know, my office releases a Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) every two years, before each regular session of the Texas Legislature. The BRE is designed to tell Texas lawmakers how much revenue will be available for general-purpose spending in the next two-year state budget period — most recently, for fiscal 2016 and 2017.

But we do another important estimate after the session ends. The Certification Revenue Estimate, or CRE, updates the BRE to reflect any new laws from the session that could affect state revenue, as well as the most current fiscal and economic data.

The CRE we recently released shows a 2.3 percent decline in our estimate of revenues available for general-purpose spending, from the BRE's $113 billion to a revised figure of $110.4 billion. The new figure primarily reflects our most current estimates of oil and natural gas prices and continuing weakness in Texas' energy sector. The state's finances remain in excellent shape, however, and we anticipate no trouble in absorbing this reduction in available revenue.

Perhaps the biggest change between the BRE and CRE estimates is our downward revision of transfers to the State Highway Fund (SHF) and the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) — the state's "Rainy Day Fund." The BRE estimated that each fund would receive $2.4 billion in transfers during the 2016-17 biennium; the CRE puts these transfers at about $1.7 billion each.

Even so, the ESF should have a balance of nearly $10.4 billion at the end of fiscal 2017.

Also, a proposed constitutional amendment before Texas voters in November would direct more revenue to the Highway Fund. If the amendment is approved, a portion of state sales tax and motor vehicle sales tax revenue will be deposited to the SHF beginning in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2020, respectively.

We've created this useful infographic (PDF) featuring highlights from the CRE. You can also read our press release on the CRE, or view the full estimate.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Top Grades for Texas

ratings graphic

October 1, 2015

All Texans know that our state is a special place. And one reason it's special is our determination to do the right thing — and that includes living within our means. We're a financially conservative state that takes "pay as you go" to heart, and most Texans seem just fine with that.

I'm pleased to report that the major credit rating agencies have just acknowledged the success of our approach. Our state's long-term general obligation debt was once again assigned the highest possible credit ratings from Moody's (Aaa), Standard and Poor's (AAA) and Fitch (AAA), with stable outlooks from all.

Credit ratings are important because they affect the cost of borrowing — high credit ratings translate into lower costs for taxpayers. Texas' ratings are due to its diverse economy, which has sustained economic growth despite falling oil prices; our state government's ample reserves and liquidity; and the Legislature's consistent focus on protecting our finances.

Of course, Texas still faces significant challenges. All three rating agencies noted the state's growing demands for public education, transportation and healthcare. And while the Legislature took action in both 2013 and 2015 to address funding for employee pensions, the agencies continue to see our pension liabilities as a potential trouble spot.

We need to stay vigilant to make sure we address our long-term financial challenges and keep Texas strong and prosperous.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


The 50-State Scorecard: Unique Tool Gets Even Better

united states of america

September 23, 2015

Back in June, my office unveiled a unique online tool, the 50-State Scorecard, the most comprehensive set of state-by-state comparisons to be found anywhere on the Web. The Scorecard offers a quick and easy way to see how Texas ranks on dozens of factors compiled by organizations and publications across the U.S., including business climate, tax burden, employment opportunities and economic indicators.

As I travel around the state, I hear from lots of folks who use and appreciate the Scorecard, and who have suggestions for more measures we could include. And I've been listening. We've expanded the Scorecard with more than two dozen new and updated measures, and added an entirely new category — quality of life, a key metric in career and business relocation decisions.

With these new yardsticks, the 50-State Scorecard becomes even more useful. There's quite simply nothing else like it in the U.S. We're proud and happy to offer it to you, and to help spread the word about Texas, the nation's number-one destination for businesses and families seeking a better place to live and work.

I hope you'll check out the Scorecard and our other transparency features. And please let us know if there are other measures you'd like the Scorecard to address.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


A Gamble that Failed

oil rig

September 1, 2015

During the plunge of energy prices we've seen for more than a year, the government of Saudi Arabia chose to keep production levels high, apparently in the belief that flooding the world with cheap oil would bring an end to America's shale revolution. It didn't work, however, and Texas in particular has gained valuable energy capabilities and expertise that aren't going away. Our state is poised to maintain and expand its dominant position in national and world energy markets. I recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal discussing the Saudis' gamble; subscribers can read it in today's issue.

As always, stay connected to Texas economic issues via our website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


No Need to Borrow to Meet Cash-Flow Needs

scissors cutting credit card

July 15, 2015

If there's ever been an 18-year-old in your life, you know that credit card invitations start hitting the mailbox right around that magic birthday. And you know one of the first lessons an 18-year-old needs to learn is not to borrow when you don't have to.

It's good advice for anyone, really, and especially for government. And I'm happy to report that for 2016, we'll avoid what's been an annual ritual for nearly three decades, the issuance of Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs).

My office has issued these short-term debt instruments to counter temporary cash-flow problems each year since 1986. The main reason is school finance. The state makes nearly half of its multi-billion-dollar payment to public schools in the first quarter of the fiscal year, before most of the year's tax revenue has been collected. TRANs help us keep the state's books in the black until more tax revenues flow in.

But for 2016, we don't need them.

State law allows us to borrow from our own accounts for this purpose, rather than from the private securities market. And right now, we have more than $6 billion in general revenue and about $8.5 billion in the state's Economic Stabilization Fund (the "Rainy Day Fund"). We can put this money to work for the taxpayers and repay the funds we borrow with state revenues as they're received.

Texas' credit ratings are very high. But just because we can borrow doesn't mean that we should, not when we can manage our own finances without sending interest payments out of state. It's fiscally responsible. It's what families do every day. And it's what Texas will do this year.

Read our press release to learn more about TRANs. And always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Certifying the 2016-17 Budget

Certifying 2016 - 2017 budget

June 29, 2015

One of my duties as Texas' chief financial officer is to "certify" the Legislature's two-year budget — to ensure the spending we plan for can be covered with the revenues we expect to collect in the next two years.

On June 9, I certified the state's budget for 2016 and 2017, which calls for about $209 billion in total spending. It's a complex budget for a varied and fast-growing state. But it's also fiscally responsible, staying well within our spending limits.

To learn more, check out this web video we released on the budget certification process.

As you can see, the measures taken by the 2015 Legislature represent a big step toward preserving our economic future over decades rather than years. But we'll have to stay focused on our long-term challenges in 2017 and beyond.

I'll keep my eye on the state's finances, and I urge you to do so as well.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook. Please visit our website to view and share our budget certification video and download and share an infographic on the budget certification process.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Texas: Where We Stand

Texas Ranks

June 18, 2015

Texans have always been a competitive bunch, and we love keeping score.

If you follow the news, you probably know Texas usually ranks at or near the top of all states for our business climate, or "business friendliness," as it's sometimes called.

Lots of businesses, publications and institutions across the nation produce rankings like these, comparing the states on all sorts of factors — finances, demographics, economic conditions and more. They can be useful for folks involved in economic development and business relocation — and for anyone who just wants to see how our state stacks up against the others.

But there's never been a way to examine dozens of these various rankings in a single place … until now.

My office has produced a fascinating new online tool, the 50-State Scorecard, that allows you to see where Texas stands against other states on 26 different measures involving business climate, tax burdens, entrepreneurial activity, unemployment, population characteristics and more.

To the best of our knowledge, it's the most comprehensive collection of state rankings ever assembled on the Web, with a clean and simple interactive design that's easy to use.

This is just the latest addition to our transparency warehouse, which houses the nation's largest selection of tools and data on state and local government finances. There's nothing else quite like it — a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about how and where your tax money is spent.

I hope you'll check out the Scorecard and our other transparency features. And please let us know if there are other measures you'd like the Scorecard to address.

As always, let us know how we're doing via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


My Take on the Legislative Session

Gavel

June 4, 2015

When my wife and I work on our family budget, we talk about how to make the best use of the money we have. We set aside funds for necessities and plan for our long-term goals, and never stop looking for ways to spend and save smarter.

The Texas Legislature goes through a similar process every other year. During the 2015 session, Texas legislators crafted a responsible budget for the next two years, passed laws to make tax collection more efficient and reduced the tax burden for many Texans.

I am pleased to say it was a successful session for both the Texas Comptroller's office and the people we serve, and I look forward to implementing the positive outcomes we experienced.

I'd also like to highlight a few of the new laws that will have a beneficial impact on the state and our economy:

  • The state budget (House Bill 1): At $209.4 billion, the budget for 2016 and 2017 measures up as fiscally sound. It's well beneath our constitutional spending cap and pay-as-you-go limit and will keep the state funded for the next two years.
  • Property tax relief (Senate Bill 1): If approved by voters in the Nov. 3 election, SB 1 will increase the homestead exemption for school district property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000. Texas homeowners shoulder too much of the overall tax burden, and they deserve this much-needed break.
  • Franchise tax relief (HB 32): This bill reduces the franchise tax rate on Texas businesses by 25 percent and provides additional tax relief to businesses that meet certain revenue thresholds. It's a smart investment that will help ensure Texas keeps producing jobs and opportunities for our citizens.
  • Modernization of Comptroller's office functions (SB 853 and SB 1364): This legislation will improve our agency's customer service by reducing filing burdens on taxpayers, saving time and money for both taxpayers and the state. For example, taxpayers will be able to submit sales tax applications electronically to our office, and they will be accepted as signed by the taxpayer. Additionally, businesses will now file electronically if they have no franchise taxes due.
  • Increased funding for Comptroller's Audit and Tax Policy divisions (HB 1): I believe audits should be swift and efficient, without undue burdens on Texas businesses. To achieve that goal, our agency must have technically proficient Tax Policy staff to interpret and implement the tax laws, ensuring auditors can equitably enforce those laws and businesses pay only the taxes they owe and nothing more. Additionally, auditors should do their work skillfully and then move on — without tangling up business operations unnecessarily. To do that, our agency must also be able to hire and keep an experienced staff in our Audit division. This bill will help us accomplish these goals and improve our customer service along the way.
  • Transfer of certain event trust funds to Governor's Office (SB 633): I'd like to see the Comptroller's office focus more on its core functions, so I can do the job Texans hired me to do as effectively as possible. SB 633 helps us achieve that goal by shifting the administration of the Major Events Trust Fund, as well as other event trust funds, from the Comptroller's office to the Governor's Office, where it will dovetail with existing initiatives in the Governor's Economic Development and Tourism Division.
  • Repeal of eight outdated state taxes (multiple bills): Immediately upon taking office as Texas Comptroller, I conducted a top-down review of the agency to look for inefficiencies and ways to streamline our processes. We found a number of outdated taxes that provided more of an unnecessary administrative burden than a net good for the state. This session, we successfully repealed eight of those taxes, creating an administrative cost savings for the agency, reducing administrative burdens on those we serve and providing tax relief for many.
  • Transportation (Senate Joint Resolution 5): As Texas continues to grow, we must invest in our infrastructure to keep our economy strong. This legislation allows Texas voters to consider a constitutional amendment dedicating a portion of the state sales and use tax and motor vehicle sales tax to road funding. If approved, this would represent the single largest increase in transportation funding in the state's history.
  • General Revenue dedicated account reform (HB 7): This reform will help enhance budgeting transparency and takes a step toward eliminating budget techniques that allow certain state fees to be used for unintended purposes. When we dedicate revenue for specific purposes, those funds should be put to use as intended — not stashed away in reserves.

As the chief financial officer of this great state, I will continue to monitor the Texas economy and do my part to make sure Texas continues to thrive. I hope you found this legislative roundup helpful, and I encourage you to share it via Facebook or Twitter. As always, if you have any suggestions on how our office can better serve you, please let me know via our customer service website.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


An Inside Look at the Texas Comptroller's Office

Watch An Inside Look video

April 27, 2015

As I travel around our great state meeting with taxpayers and talking to business owners, there's one question that seems to pop up a lot.

"What exactly does the Comptroller's office do?"

It happens all the time. So, last week our office released a video giving folks "An Inside Look at the Texas Comptroller's Office" that educates taxpayers about some of the agency's core responsibilities and legislative mandates.

You see, most people just think of the Comptroller's office like a big cash register that holds the state's revenues and dispenses them as needed. Don't get me wrong, we definitely do a lot of that. In fact, this fiscal year alone we will execute more than 12 million individual transactions — 60 transactions every minute of every working day.

But we do so much more. Managing funds for the 12th largest economy in the world carries a wide range of responsibilities, and the agency's constitutional mandate is huge.

Take a look at our video, share it and remember if you have any questions about this agency or suggestions about how we can best serve you, I hope you'll let us know via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar


Announcing the Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights

April 13, 2015

It's hard for me to believe, but this weekend marked my 100th day serving as your Texas Comptroller.

From day one, I promised the taxpayers of this state an agency that puts their needs first, addresses concerns and issues in an efficient and respectful manner, fosters an environment of transparency and accountability and focuses on the core responsibilities of the State Comptroller's office.

With that promise in mind, I felt it was important to create a Texas Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Primarily, this agency is tasked with the responsibility of collecting and safeguarding taxpayer dollars. And in doing so, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are here to serve you. My Taxpayer Bill of Rights is designed to ensure that the service you receive from our agency not only meets your needs, but exceeds your expectations.

Please take a moment to read about your rights as a taxpayer, and I hope you'll share this message with anyone you think might be interested. Also, let me know how I can best serve you by engaging with my office via our customer service website, Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks for all you do for Texas, and God bless,

Glenn Hegar

INVESTING THE ESF