• Welcome back: Texas lawmakers return to Austin for 86th legislative session

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    Yesterday was the first day of the 86th Texas Legislative Session. Lawmakers will meet in Austin for 140 days drafting, crafting and passing new laws to address the issues of 28 million Texans. One of the first acts was for members to elect Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as the new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Early next week there will be parades and parties celebrating the inaugurations of Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Later this month House and Senate Committees will be named and then the real work of the Legislature will begin.
     
    The most important task of any Legislature is to pass a two year state budget and to do that legislators need to know how much money they can expect to have to spend. On Monday, Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar released the Biennial Revenue Estimate ahead of the 2019 Texas Legislative Session.  The revenue estimate is used by the legislature to prepare the states’ two year budget. Comptroller Hegar projects there will be $119.1 billion available for discretionary state (not including federal monies) spending for the 2020/2021 biennium and that the Economic Stabilization fund, more commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fun, will have a projected balance of $15.4 billion. As you can see in the charts below that is an 8% increase in revenue over the $110.2 billion available for the previous biennium.
     
    Comptroller Hegar said, "We remain cautiously optimistic but recognize we’re unlikely to see continued revenue growth at the unusually strong rates we’ve seen in recent months.”  The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) noted that the revenue estimate is “a little better than many expected—perhaps enough revenue to pay for many of the items on the state’s to-do list, with maybe a bit left over for a few items on the wish list.”
     
    State leaders such as Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have touted property tax relief and school finance reform as the main priorities for the upcoming legislative session and the significant increases is revenue suggests that there may enough money to make meaningful progress on both of those issues.
     
    TFFA will keep you up to date on our industry’s issues at the state Capitol throughout the 86th Session. Also please plan to join us for TFFA’s Legislative Day at the Texas Capitol on February 11th-13th.

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