Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2015
(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today the release of the Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE) for the fiscal 2016-17 biennium.
Prior to each regular legislative session, the Comptroller's office issues a Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) that estimates how much revenue will be available for spending in the state's next two-year budget cycle. After the session, the agency releases the CRE to provide the detailed basis by which the Comptroller certified the budget and to revise estimates in the BRE to reflect new laws and current economic information, as well as to take into account final numbers for the recently ended fiscal year.
The Comptroller's BRE projections, released in January, have proven to be remarkably accurate thus far. Actual fiscal 2015 revenues for all funds fell just 0.3 percent short of BRE estimates, while General Revenue-related totals came in 0.1 percent ahead. This level of accuracy provides a strong basis for forecasting revenues in the current economic landscape.
"Despite the significant retrenchment in the oil and gas sector we witnessed in fiscal 2015, revenues remained in line with the estimates we made in January," said Hegar. "That said, we anticipate that prolonged weakness in oil and gas markets will continue to slow our economy. While the CRE still predicts moderate growth for the state, current economic conditions dictate slightly lower revenue projections than those we released in January."
As a result of actions taken by the Legislature and an updated economic forecast, the Comptroller's office now expects revenue available for general spending in 2016 and 2017 to total about $110.4 billion, versus the BRE estimate of about $113 billion. A larger-than-expected beginning balance, coupled with conservative budgeting from the 2015 Legislature, will provide an ample cushion for the state to absorb the 2.3 percent reduction in estimated revenue.
Texas' State Highway Fund (SHF) and the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) — the state's "Rainy Day Fund" — both receive funding from oil and gas severance taxes, and thus will feel the impact of the downturn in energy production. The CRE predicts fiscal 2016 transfers of $1.1 billion each to ESF and SHF, in line with the BRE estimate, but fiscal 2017 estimates have been revised downward to approximately $594 million for each fund.
However, the Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would direct more revenue to the state's transportation needs. If in November 2015 voters approve the proposed constitutional amendment, then a portion of state sales tax and motor vehicle sales tax revenue will be deposited to the SHF. The deposits will not begin until fiscal 2018 and therefore will have no effect on the 2016-17 biennium.
"I will continue to monitor the Texas economy and state revenues closely, and will keep the public informed of significant events as they arise," added Hegar.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 855, which requires state agencies to publish a list of the three most commonly used Web browsers on their websites. The Texas Comptroller’s most commonly used Web browsers are Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari.