What to do with Texas’ $24 billion budget surplus?

KPRC 2 viewers, lawmakers share their thoughts on how to use the money.

Houston, TX – The state of Texas’ economy is booming and now lawmakers are looking at how to best use the fruits of the labor market.

According to lawmakers the state’s general revenue fund has grown to approximately $12 billion as a result of the economy. The rainy day fund also holds approximately $12 billion.

The staggering surplus puts Texas in a situation it likely has never been in before and also create a challenge for lawmakers on how to divide it all up.

“It puts us in a position where the governor and the leadership of Texas can do some fantastic things,” said Senator Borris Miles, a Democrat representing District 13.

The budget won’t be addressed until the next legislature, but already policymakers have ideas.

Last week, KPRC 2 Investigates reported on the impact rising property taxes is having on Houston-area homeowners. Governor Greg Abbott signaled that he would be open to a long-term plan using the surplus to help.

“I strongly support using the state surplus to reduce the amount of property taxes owed,” said Abbott.

Republican senator Paul Bettencourt, who represents district 7, also wants to see a portion of the surplus to help pay down the school’s maintenance and operations tax component for property owners.

“I think that at least half of the excess should go back to the public in the form of tax relief,” said Bettencourt.

However, Miles argues the buy down wouldn’t help the thousands of people who are renters. Miles argues the first $4.5 billion should go to the commitments of Medicare funding and reimbursements, which is already in the pipeline.

“I can’t imagine the governor not going to continue what we’ve already started,” said Miles.

Democrat Senator John Whitmire would steer billions to public safety and the state’s infrastructure. But he does think Republican leadership will take a different course.

“I would suggest that probably most of it will be saved in a rainy day fund,” said Whitmire.

“There are people in Texas, in our society, and in Houston, who think it is raining right now,” said Miles.

While Texas is riding a hot streak, Bettencourt points out “all good things come to an end.”

We want to hear what you think about the multi-billion dollar surplus. Let us know using the form below!


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