Monday, Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar held a virtual news conference to discuss a revised Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) of $115.65 billion in revenue available for general-purpose spending. This is up by $3.12 billion from the estimate originally given on January 11.
The Texas Constitution requires that the state comptroller submits a statement showing the state’s financial condition and estimating the revenue it can expect to receive during the next two-year budget period. The Biennial Revenue Estimate forms the basis of the state budget, and lawmakers must ensure that total appropriations do not exceed the available cash and anticipated revenue as projected.
“When we finalized our economic forecast for the January BRE, COVID case counts and hospitalizations were on the rise, and the rollout of vaccines had just begun,” Hegar said. “Those conditions warranted caution about the near-term economic outlook. Since then, case counts and hospitalizations have plummeted, many restrictions have been lifted, and economic activity in the state—and across the country—has accelerated.”
Status of the State Budget Bill for the Next Biennium
Both chambers of the Legislature have unanimously passed the state budget bill from their chambers. The House of Representatives did so on April 22 after considering several amendments to the original bill that passed the Senate on April 6.
A conference committee has already been appointed, consisting of the subcommittee chairmen of the House Appropriations Committee and workgroup chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for the various articles in the budget. The conference committee is charged with working through the differences between the version that passed the Senate and the version that came back from the House of Representatives, where they will ultimately submit a conference committee report that each body will consider.
Considering and ultimately passing a balanced budget is one of the few constitutionally required things lawmakers must do every regular legislative session.
With the updated BRE numbers, it is unclear what lawmakers or the current conference committee will do with the current draft of the budget document.