On Tuesday, September 1, we were joined for a special Pulse on Policy Q&A with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who monitors Texas' financial health to ensure it maintains strong fund balances.
Comptroller Hegar began by explaining that Texas started the year with a strong financial foundation. However, his office recently projected a fiscal 2021 ending shortfall of $4.58 billion, attributed to the pandemic and volatility in oil prices. Since the start of the pandemic, Texas has received about $13 billion in federal funds, which has helped to offset the negative economic impact.
As the world's 9th largest economy and with roughly 19% of U.S. exports, Texas is very tied to global markets. Once the pandemic hit, the Comptroller's office knew they had to look at non-traditional economic indicators in order to make the most accurate projections, so they considered data sets related to TSA air travel information, hotel occupancy, Open Table and other restaurant reservation tools. The office also researched historical precedents like the Great Recession and financial crisis, the 9/11 attack, and the 1982 stock market crash.
Looking ahead, Comptroller Hegar emphasized that we must support all sectors of the economy to spur recovery, especially the hardest hit areas like hospitality, smaller retail, and restaurants and bars. He praised the Chamber's leadership in the City of US campaign, which encourages Austinites to help our local businesses stay open by wearing masks and social distancing. He also said that it's important to continue funding our transportation and water infrastructure projects because those create real jobs for Texans.
In addition, he implored all Texans to complete the 2020 Census, adding that a right count is extremely important because congressional seats are on the line, in addition to funding for education, health & human services, Medicaid, and transportation. He added:
Texas pays our federal taxes as a donor state, and the question is: “Will we get those dollars back?”
He ended the conversation by letting business leaders know what kind of input they can provide to his office. He would like know:
- What does their day-to-day look like?
- Are there any improvements?
- What challenges are arising?
- What supply disruptions are occurring? (e.g. lumber; plywood; etc.)
- How are businesses changing/evolving?
To reach out or provide feedback, please contact the Chamber by emailing Dana Harris, Vice President of Federal and State Advocacy.
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