AUSTIN (Nexstar) — On Monday, July 20, Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar released a revised Certification Revenue Estimate, which now projects a fiscal 2021 ending shortfall of $4.58 billion. That’s $11 billion less than what the state had projected in its last estimate.
This is a decrease from the $2.89 billion positive year-end balance projected in October 2019. In that estimate, the comptroller projected the state to have $121 billion to spend, which has now been revised to $110 billion.
The decrease is largely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and volatile oil prices, Comptroller Hegar said Monday.
The estimate does not factor in the mandate from the governor, requesting state agencies to slash their budgets by 5%. It also assumes the state will not shut down any further amid the pandemic over the next few months.
The revision also does not take into account any federal funding that might be on the way, similar to the CARES Act, as Hegar explained the legislation would have to be officially signed by federal lawmakers before he could factor that into the estimate.
Even without a shut down, people do spend differently during the pandemic, which Hegar said makes it difficult to predict how people will be spending their money over the next several months.
“We’ve seen people’s lack of spending and economic activity is more out of concern than it is about government-mandated shutdowns and so you know it’s really about the psyche of individuals, and that’s just really too hard for us to read right now,” Hegar said Monday.
“Trying to understand the psyche of individuals in businesses, and again, not just here in Texas, and not just in the United States, but literally around the world because of supply chain issues, you know,” Hegar explained, “That’s the reason I’m highlighting that uncertainty more than ever before.”
Despite the deficit, Hegar said Texas is still in a good position to handle the shortfall compared to other states.
“We have the tools in the toolbox to be able to deal with this current shortfall, and manage through this in a very…manner that that is easier than some of the other States and other countries are having to deal with their issues,” Hegar said.