Here we are, five days in, and already so much has happened!
Masks, hand sanitizers, drones, and safety troopers were in no short supply as Dade Phelan was elected Speaker of the House, while Governor Abbott hinted at permanently establishing alcohol to-go, and the Comptroller’s Biennial Revenue Estimate hit the airwaves.
And the Texas Senate had a major discussion on their rules….
Across the building, the Senate pushed the previously 13 required votes to block a bill from getting to the floor to 14, just one vote out of reach for Democrats – who gained a seat in the fall and brought their total to 13 members. This means that it now takes only 18, instead of the previous 19, members to advance legislation on the floor of the Texas Senate. This was a clear result to a change in one district that shifted from Republican to Democrat. The rules race followed…
Later in the week- in both Houses – there was much discussion by lawmakers regarding the transparency and accessibility of committee meetings and redistricting hearings at the Capitol and public input.
As far as the virus and its effect on how things will go down, Texas became the second state to surpass 30,000 deaths. (Today, that number is over 32,000) That leaves us wondering what impacts, if any, might be reflected in the budget forecast. Certainly, the negative $946 million leaves a smaller hole to fill than the previously forecasted $4.6 billion. But with vaccine rollout at a mere fraction of what we anticipated, consumer spending (which accounts for a huge percentage of state revenue) may lag and the oil and natural gas sectors face a tough recovery as people delay returning to the office.
Texas always finds a way! We are hopeful to keep that fighting Texas Spirit!
For instance, household savings are up. The Governor has done a tremendous job of keeping Texas Open for Business!
Combined with effective vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, it’s an encouraging sign for the market as things return to a pre-pandemic environment. Texas’ economic growth, as measured by real Gross State Product (GSP), is predicted to average just above 4% annually, and there’s a predicted $112.5 billion available for general purpose spending in the next biennium.
At any rate, the events of the past year certainly set the stage for considering alternative sources of state revenue, and there are certainly plenty of bills filed to raise the question this Session. We should thank our leadership in Texas for Keeping Texas Open and be most grateful we do not reside in California or New York. We still have small business in the Lone Star State!
The Legislature has adjourned until January 26th. However, there is so much to come, and we will keep you apprised!
There are a lot of moving pieces even without the Pandemic! Stay tuned…
I wish you all very well for the 2021 Session.
My staff and I are here anytime you need us!
Lara Laneri Keel
President, LLK LLC