Capital Highlights — Comptroller releases broadband plan
State Comptroller Glenn Hegar last week released his agency’s plan to support the expansion of broadband internet access to areas with limited or no access.[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] News San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
Comptroller releases some details on broadband expansion
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar this week released his agency’s Texas Broadband Plan supporting the expansion of internet access for underserved or unserved Texans. U.S. Census Bureau data shows nearly 2.8 million Texas households lack broadband access. “Expanding broadband access will require collaboration and partnerships between local governments and private entities, across counties and among residents.”The 87th Texas Legislature created the Broadband Development Office at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The BDO is charged with broadband expansion, which includes establishing an official statewide plan for expanding access. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act enacted by the federal government has allocated $500.5 million to Texas for broadband expansion, while the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allocate at least $100 million.myrgv.com
Comptroller Hegar hears local input on expanding broadband access
EDINBURG — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar paid a visit here Tuesday as part of a statewide effort to expand internet access. “We have 7 million people in the state that do not have internet access,” Hegar said. The need to expand internet access became more apparent over the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hegar said, given that many were going to work or attending school remotely. “We want to make sure that local companies are able to maintain what they put into place,” he said. “We’re prepared to partner, in a collaborative way, with all the entities that we have in our city,” he added.myrgv.com
Analysis: Texans without high-speed internet are getting closer, slowly
The idea that internet access is a luxury was already demolished before anybody ever heard of COVID-19. But the pandemic — and the demands of switching work, school and medicine from in-person to virtual experiences — made it impossible for state officials to ignore.[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] Opinions San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
Analysis: Texans without high-speed internet are getting closer, slowly
Like other states, Texas found out during the pandemic how critical high-speed broadband is for school, work and medicine. And the state is working to expand it — but it’s going to be at least a year before Texans start to see results.
State sales tax filings up 20.5 percent in February
Texas state sales tax revenue totaled $3.23 billion in February, and after adjusting for sales tax filings delayed last year by Winter Storm Uri, were 20.5 percent above taxes collected the previous year. “State sales tax collections continued to surge and reached an all-time February high, with receipts from all major economic sectors coming in well above year-ago levels,” Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. Here’s how the major sectors broke down in February:– Motor vehicle sales and rental taxes — $475 million, up 28 percent from February 2021. – Natural gas production tax — $319 million, up 182 percent from February 2021. – Hotel occupancy tax — $42 million, up 56 percent from February 2021 after adjusting for late filers.myrgv.com
Capital Highlights — State high court hears challenge to abortion law
The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week on the question of whether state regulators can be sued by abortion providers hoping to block enforcement of the state’s restrictive abortion law[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] News San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
Valley’s hot sales tax numbers slow in December allocations
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announce he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $936 million in local sales tax allocations for December, 18.4 percent more than in December 2020. These allocations are based on sales made in October by businesses that report tax monthly. In Cameron County, Brownsville led the way among all of the bigger cities with a 21.19 percent increase over a year ago. The only city not to post better numbers for the month was Rio Hondo, which was down 5.18 percent compared to last year. In Willacy County, Raymondville was down 11.14 percent for the month while Lyford posted a 9.45 percent gain year-over-year.myrgv.com
Analysis: A swelling Texas treasury gives 2022 hopefuls room for big ideas
As the political season starts, the contestants got an unexpected bit of good news: The state comptroller says the next Legislature will start with almost $25 billion in the state treasury. Expensive campaign promises just got a lot easier to make.
Vital connection: State comptroller tours Anzalduas bridge ahead of expansion project
As plans to expand the Anzalduas International Bridge into a full-service cargo port are on the verge of becoming a reality, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar toured the existing facilities on Wednesday, emphasizing the significance of border trade.myrgv.com
I-35 exit ramp near outlet malls to close during tax-free weekend
Traffic control efforts will be established by the City of San Marcos and contracted crews on Saturday in an effort to accommodate increased traffic at the outlet malls during tax-free weekend.[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] News San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
As school year draws near, tax-free weekend begins Friday
With the school year beginning soon, Texans can save money on clothes and school supplies during the state’s sales tax holiday, beginning Friday and ending Sunday.[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] News San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
Florida and Texas threaten Ben & Jerry's with anti-BDS laws over West Bank pullout
Public officials in at least two Republican-led states vocalized support for Israel in its dispute with Ben & Jerry’s, threatening to invoke state laws to punish companies that advocate or act to boycott, divest, or sanction the key U.S. ally.news.yahoo.com
Comptroller’s office offers free help to pinpoint sales tax owed
Trying to negotiate the increasingly muddy waters of local sales and use tax collecting is no fun for business owners. In a program that rolled out Wednesday, business owners and operators can download free sales tax rate locater files to determine tax responsibility at the time of sale. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the tax files were created by his agency due to the increasingly complex rules governing sales tax and use tax reporting. The locater services will help sellers determine their exact tax responsibility at the time of sale. For more information, email the Tax Allocation Section at Taxalloc.RevAcct@cpa.texas.gov or visit the Sales Tax Rate Locator online at https://mycpa.cpa.state.tx.us/atj/myrgv.com
Need a dishwasher, light bulbs, toilet? They’re sales tax-free this weekend
If you need a new dishwasher, plants to spruce up the yard, or just want to stock up on light bulbs, Memorial Day weekend may be the time to shop. Texans pay no sales tax on qualifying energy-saving and water-sipping appliances and products.
Energy, water-saving tax-free weekend coming May 29-31
The annual sales tax holiday for Energy Star and WaterSense products is set for May 29-31, and state officials estimate the tax-free weekend will save buyers an estimated $13.4 million they otherwise would have paid in state and local sales tax. These qualifying items can be purchased tax-free for both private and business use. The sales tax holiday also applies to lawn and garden products that help conserve water outdoors. Items qualifying for the exemption include soaker or drip-irrigation hoses; moisture controls for sprinkler or irrigation systems; mulch; and plants, trees and grasses. These items can be purchased tax-free for residential use only.myrgv.com
State sales taxes up 31.4 percent, a monthly record
One year after COVID-19 shutdowns, lockdowns and related job losses began to take effect, sales tax revenues for sales mostly made during March rose to a record-high monthly total of 31.4 percent over the previous year, the Texas Comptroller’s Office reports.myrgv.com
Texas’ pandemic budget shortfall disappears, as latest forecast shows a surplus
Texas will close the books on its current budget cycle with an extra $725 million in the bank — which is welcome news as Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar had predicted in January that the state would suffer a $1 billion shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medicaid expansion, federal coronavirus aid could spur legislative fights as Texas House debates $246 billion state budget
Analysis: Government budgets looked terrible when COVID-19 started. A federal windfall has flipped the outlook.
The Texas Legislature’s budget worries have lightened considerably since the grim forecasts of last spring and summer. And most of their current budget problems are over. AdBy midsummer of last year, Hegar had seen enough to say that the current budget, which runs through the end of August 2021, appeared to be $4.6 billion out of balance. The economic trends are different now, but you’ll probably hear the cautionary history again — especially when someone gets too excited about spending that federal money. But state lawmakers still have a list of things to fret over, starting with COVID-19, an energy grid that came to pieces when the state needed it most and high-profile debates over elections, voting, police brutality and funding.
Winter storm could cost Texas more money than any disaster in state history
The winter storm that left dozens of Texans dead, millions without power and nearly 15 million with water issues could be the costliest disaster in state history, potentially exceeding the $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey. Last week’s winter storm impacted every region of the state, a reason why experts and officials are discussing the possibility of damage and cost exceeding those from Hurricane Harvey. Kidd said he expects the state to be reimbursed for 75% of its expenses by the federal government. Back then, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar told lawmakers how much money they’d have to spend on a state budget for the next two years. And he announced his support for legislation that “prohibits cities and counties from banning natural gas appliances.”Then last week’s winter storm hit.sacurrent.com
Winter storm could cost Texas more money than any disaster in state history
The winter storm that left dozens of Texans dead, millions without power and nearly 15 million with water issues could be the costliest disaster in state history, potentially exceeding the $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey. Last week’s winter storm impacted every region of the state, a reason why experts and officials are discussing the possibility of damage and cost exceeding those from Hurricane Harvey. Kidd said he expects the state to be reimbursed for 75% of its expenses by the federal government. Back then, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar told lawmakers how much money they’d have to spend on a state budget for the next two years. And he announced his support for legislation that “prohibits cities and counties from banning natural gas appliances.”AdThen last week’s winter storm hit.
Las Vegas Sands continuing push to bring casinos to Texas
Then came the death of Adelson, the famous chairman, founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands' senior vice president of government affairs, indicated in a statement for this story that the company was undeterred. Sure enough, Las Vegas Sands' Texas lobby team has kept growing at a brisk pace, ballooning to 51 members, according to registrations with the Texas Ethics Commission as of Tuesday. While not exactly a ringing endorsement of casino gambling, Phelan's view may not be too out of whack with Las Vegas Sands' pitch. As the session got underway earlier this month, even more was revealed about the extent of Las Vegas Sands' influence campaign in the state.mysanantonio.com
The late Sheldon Adelson's gambling empire pushes forward with goal to bring casinos to Texas
Officials for Las Vegas Sands are still pushing to allow casinos in Texas, even after momentum for the idea seemed to slow in recent weeks. Then came the death of Adelson, the famous chairman, founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands' senior vice president of government affairs, indicated in a statement for this story that the company was undeterred. Sure enough, Las Vegas Sands' Texas lobby team has kept growing at a brisk pace, ballooning to 51 members, according to registrations with the Texas Ethics Commission as of Tuesday. While not exactly a ringing endorsement of casino gambling, Phelan's view may not be too out of whack with Las Vegas Sands' pitch.
Texas House and Senate propose similar spending amounts in preliminary budgets
This year, the proposals fully fund Texas public schools under a school finance system they overhauled in 2019 to boost funding and slow the growth of local property taxes. When providing an update in January, Hegar projected a nearly $1 billion deficit for the current state budget that runs through August 2021. Dan Patrick and former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen ordered this summer, or any supplemental changes to the budget lawmakers will have to make. Vance Ginn, chief economist with the conservative group Texas Public Policy Foundation, was optimistic about the legislature’s priorities despite a tumultuous pandemic year. Disclosure: Every Texan and Texas Public Policy Foundation have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors.
Analysis: The odds for legal pot and casinos in Texas just got worse
If and when you go looking for the killer of legislation to bring marijuana or casinos to the state of Texas in 2021, consider the evidence against Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. Reexamining current spending and cutting the easy stuff comes first, but it doesn’t produce much money. Polishing up the accounting tricks that balance a budget without spending money or raising taxes. An example: Delaying a $1 billion payment from the last day of the current budget reduces spending by that amount — for this budget. They have to find $1 billion to trim from the current budget, but that’s not really much in the face of a $250 billion budget.
Analysis: Make government boring again
Security for the opening day of the Texas Legislature's session was been ramped up after violence in Washington D.C. last week. The Texas Legislature is back, and on their opening day Tuesday, state lawmakers gave you no reason to stop what you’re doing and pay attention. His early warnings that the current state budget could have a shortfall of $4.6 billion shrunk to slightly less than $1 billion — relative pocket change in a $250 billion state budget. Those are some of the battles ahead in the Texas Capitol — a building designed, after all, for debating and settling fierce differences in opinion. But Tuesday’s beginning, especially in light of what happened last week in Washington, D.C., was just what you’d hope for: Boring.
Pandemic leaves Texas with $1B deficit as virus still surges
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)AUSTIN, Texas – The coronavirus pandemic has created a nearly $1 billion deficit in the Texas state budget as the nation’s energy hub remains hampered by a slow recovery and a half-million fewer jobs than a year ago. The forecast Monday by state officials is brighter than bleak projections last summer that warned of a spending deficit four times the size. Texas has billions of dollars in reserves and the projected $1 billion shortfall is a fraction of the state budget, making it likely manageable for lawmakers over the five-month session. Many other states have also slashed their budgets due to the impact of the virus on the U.S. economy. It will also be the first time that Texas lawmakers have met since the August 2019 shooting at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso that killed 23 people.
Recession cuts how much lawmakers can spend with the next state budget, but decrease isn’t as bad as feared
But he acknowledged that Texas' economic future remains "clouded in uncertainty" and that numbers could change in the coming months. Hegar also announced a nearly $1 billion deficit for the current state budget that lawmakers must make up, a significantly smaller shortfall than Hegar expected over the summer. That number, however, doesn't account for 5% cuts to state agencies' budgets that Gov. Dan Patrick ordered this summer or any supplemental changes to the budget lawmakers will have to make. “Hurricanes pose a persistent threat in counties that contribute a third of Texas’ gross state product.
Join The Texas Tribune for a live interview with Comptroller Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar sits down with The Texas Tribune for a live interview on Jan. 14. Join The Texas Tribune at 8 a.m. Central Jan. 14 for an interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar conducted by Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey. Hegar, who was elected comptroller in 2014, serves as Texas’ treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer and revenue estimator. The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors.
‘Christmas miracle’: San Antonio Food Bank finds thousands in unclaimed property
SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Food Bank recently claimed enough unclaimed property to provide nearly 140,000 meals to the community, and the Comptroller’s Office says more notable Texas food pantries may be owed thousands of dollars. The Comptroller’s Office is working with food banks across Texas to help them find unclaimed property that could help them fill up their food supply this holiday season. The San Antonio Food Bank had more than $19,000 in unclaimed property. “It’s a bit of a Christmas miracle to get a gift of unclaimed property via the state Comptroller’s office,” said Eric Cooper, CEO and president of the San Antonio Food Bank. The Comptroller’s Office has partnered with a contact at Feeding Texas to match food banks with their unclaimed property.
Numbers show 46% drop in alcohol sales at Bexar County bars, restaurants in 2020
Aided by the NBA regular season and big concerts scheduled in San Antonio, Bexar County bars and restaurants posted more than $67 million in alcohol sales in March 2019, according to the comptroller’s office. The alcohol sales figures provided by the comptroller’s office show a 46% drop between January and October of 2020 compared to 2019, showing the pandemic’s impact on local restaurants, bars, venues, hotels and resorts. From January until October of 2019, alcohol sales totaled $565,451,795. Over that same period in 2020, the numbers show sales at $303,852,813. On Monday, Hegar said the deficit appears to be improving due to more Texans spending money, boosting sales tax revenue.
Despite staggering pandemic losses, Texas budget forecast better than expected, state comptroller says
Despite “historic declines,” state lawmakers will have more money to work with in the upcoming legislative session than Comptroller Glenn Hegar expected over the summer, he said Monday. But Hegar did not outline specifics as state coffers continue to suffer from the economic recession spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. Sales tax revenues, by far the largest part of the state budget, fell by 4.8% in the second half of the 2020 fiscal year compared to the same stretch last year, Hegar said. Greg Abbott and lawmakers projecting the state’s current two-year budget to be roughly $11.5 billion less than originally estimated. As of Monday, though, Capitol leaders have not said what the upcoming session will look like in the time of coronavirus.
September sales tax revenue in Texas down 6.1% from a year ago
Texas collected about $2.6 billion in state sales tax revenue in September, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Thursday. "The COVID-19 pandemic and low price of crude oil continue to weigh on the Texas economy and sales tax revenue," Hegar said in a news release. State sales tax revenue is the state's single largest source of funding. Other sources of state revenue are still being impacted by economic shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Another major tax, the hotel occupancy tax, is also down about 37% in revenue from the same month last year.
Texas paid $300 million in unclaimed property claims over last year. Check to see if you are owed.
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Comptroller recently announced that more than $300 million has been paid in unclaimed property claims for FY 2020. “I encourage all Texans to visit ClaimItTexas.org to see if the state is holding some of their unclaimed property," said Hegar. According to officials at the Comptroller’s office, Texas has returned more than $3 billion in unclaimed property to its rightful owners since the unclaimed property program began in 1962. In FY 2019, Texas paid out $307,799,242.35 in unclaimed property and as of July 31 Texas has paid out $264,659,040.64 for FY 2020, which ended Aug. 31. Related: There’s more than $200 million in unclaimed cash in San Antonio and some of it might be yours
Texans spent less going out to eat and drink, but more on home improvement as coronavirus cases peaked this summer
Texas collected about $2.8 billion in state sales tax revenue in August 5.6% less than in the same month last year, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Tuesday. That revenue was based mainly on purchases made in July, when the number of coronavirus cases were peaking. State sales tax collections from major sectors except retail trade declined compared to the same period in 2019, Hegar said. "Consequently," he said in a news release, "further declines in sales tax revenue may ensue in the coming months." Since the pandemic hit the state several months ago, sales tax revenue has been mainly on the decline.
Texas sales tax collections went up in July and were higher than one year ago
For the first time in months, Texas state sales tax revenue increased when compared to the same period last year despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Monday. Texas collected $2.98 billion in sales tax revenue in July 4.3% more than in July 2019. That revenue, which mainly reflects purchases made in June, was better than expected, despite the high unemployment due to the pandemic, Hegar said in a statement. State sales tax revenue is the state's single largest source of funding. The state's total sales tax revenue for May, June and July this year was down 5.3% compared to the same period last year, Hegar said Monday.
Analysis: Texas in a state of financial uncertainty
We're going to have to continue to learn how to live with the pandemic and be able to keep the economy open, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. Allie Goulding/The Texas TribuneEditor's note: If you'd like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey's column, click here. It will be a miracle if Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and his team of financial prognosticators are right about the arc of the states economy over the next few months. Like the one about businesses and consumers resuming something like their normal economic lives around the first of next year, he said in a livestreamed interview with the Texas Tribune this week. Disclosure: The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors.
Analysis: Coronavirus spreads to the Texas state budget
Texas lawmakers will return to the Capitol in January just six months from now to revise the current budget and write the next one. The latest news from the Texas comptroller that the state will have $11.6 billion less to spend in its current budget than lawmakers expected leads straight to a conversation about which programs and services in the state budget are expendable. The Legislature will be in session in January just six months from now to revise the current budget and write the next one. What comes after the current budget is the hard part. If big cuts are in order, education and health and human services are the biggest spending categories in the Texas budget.
Texas faces a looming $4.6 billion deficit, comptroller projects
On Monday, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic had created a large shortfall in the budget. That puts the state on track to end the biennium, which runs through August 2021, with a deficit of nearly $4.6 billion, Hegar said. The state, Hegar said, will now have roughly $110 billion to work with for the current budget. Hegar's projected $4.6 billion deficit for the state, he said, does not include expected additional appropriations for Medicaid and other programs that were underfunded in the current budget. Lawmakers will need to reckon with those shortfalls in addition to that projected $4.6 billion budget hole next session, which will increase the spending total and the ending deficit number.
Texas sales tax revenue declined 6.5% vs last June as state reopened for business
Callie Richmond for The Texas TribuneTexas collected $2.67 billion in state sales tax revenue in June a 6.5% drop compared to what the state brought in the same month last year, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Wednesday. Junes sales tax revenue, which mainly reflects purchases made in May, suggests that the states phased reopening and relaxing of social distancing measures over the past month led to some increases in economic activity. Still, Hegar said, sales tax revenue totaled over April, May and June was down 9.7% compared to the same period a year ago. While collections from restaurants were depressed, Hegar said that take-out and delivery sales, along with online purchases, helped buoy revenue in the restaurant and retail sectors. Later this month, Hegar is expected to announce his revised revenue estimate for the current state budget, which ends in August 2021.
Texas sales tax revenue dips 13.2% in May, the largest year-over-year decline in a decade
Eddie Gaspar/The Texas TribuneTexas collected about $2.6 billion in state sales tax revenue in May, leading to the steepest year-over-year decline in over a decade, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Monday. The amount is 13.2% less than the roughly $3 billion the state collected in the same month last year. "Significant declines in sales tax receipts were evident in all major economic sectors, with the exception of telecommunications services," Hegar said in a news release. Last month, for example, Hegar announced that the sales tax revenue collections for purchases in March dropped roughly 9% which at the time was the steepest decline since January 2010. Some Republicans have pushed for double-digit budget reductions, arguing the economic fallout merits such an action.
Watch: Texas Workforce Commission answer your unemployment questions on Facebook
SAN ANTONIO – As unemployment claims soar throughout Texas amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas Workforce Commission will held a Facebook livestream to answer frequently asked questions. #COVID19 #StayHomeTexas #unemployment Posted by Texas Workforce Commission on Wednesday, March 25, 2020Since COVID-19 began spreading throughout communities in Texas, city and county emergency declarations and stay-at-home orders have shut down several businesses. In a recent interview, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said that the unemployment rate in Texas is around 9%. Texas unemployment rate headed toward double digits, comptroller warnsMore than 16,000 claims have already been filed with the commission between March 8 through March 14. COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019.