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Comptroller News

TAX HOLIDAY

Holiday saved Texans more than $46 million

In July, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn predicted that Texas families would save $46.1 million in state and local sales taxes during the sixth annual Sales Tax Holiday on August 6 to 8. During the Sales Tax Holiday, most clothing and footwear priced at less than $100 are tax-free. Shoppers can save about $8 for every $100 they spend on back-to-school clothes for the kids and new apparel for the entire family.

"This is a much-needed and well-deserved tax break for hard-working Texas families," Strayhorn said. "It lets families keep more of their dollars in their pockets for their families" priorities."

Since the first Sales Tax Holiday in August 1999, Texans have saved an estimated $193.5 million in sales tax, including $152.7 million in state sales tax and $40.8 million in local sales taxes.


SALES TAX

Strayhorn reports increase in sales tax collections

The state collected $1.27 billion in sales tax revenue in July, up 9.6 percent compared with July 2003 said Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Through August 13, state sales tax revenue was up 7.9 percent in fiscal 2004.

"State sales tax collections have risen for 12 consecutive months," Strayhorn said. "After seeing sales tax revenue decline for an unprecedented two consecutive fiscal years in 2002 and 2003, I am pleased to close the books on fiscal 2004 with a solid gain in sales tax.

"Our state's economy has finally rebounded after the sharp decline that began in the third quarter of 2001," Strayhorn said. "My Texas Index of Leading Economic Indicators points to additional economic acceleration in the coming months. One component of the index, Consumer Confidence, jumped 52.5 percent in March and by 35.4 percent in July, compared with the prior year."

Many local governments will see increases in August sales tax allocations. Sales tax allocations to local governments in 2004 are running 8.3 percent higher than in 2003.


ECONOMY

Index up; Texas' gains accelerate

In August, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announced that the Texas economy has dramatically improved and is expected to accelerate.

The Comptroller's index shot up by 5.3 percent in March--the highest in nearly 10 years--and has continued to show growth since.

"I am thrilled, but obviously not surprised, to see Texas helping to lead economic growth again in our country," said Strayhorn. "Texans' job gains have been among the highest in the nation in recent months."

One of the components of the Comptroller's index, Consumer Confidence, is up sharply. Compared with 2003, the March regional Consumer Confidence Index, which measures confidence in Texas and three adjoining states, jumped 52.5 percent. The most recent measure, taken in July, was up 35.4 percent.


HEALTH

Comptroller calls for CHIP investigation

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, in separate letters to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton and U.S. Health and Human Services Acting Principal Deputy Inspector General Dara Corrigan, asked for a federal investigation into mishandled contracts in the Texas Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Strayhorn took the unusual step in July, after the Texas State Auditor issued a scathing report highlighting $20 million in overpayments to a contractor.

"Because federal dollars, as well as state dollars, are involved in this scandal, an independent, federal inquiry is warranted," she wrote.

The State Auditor's Office released a 72-page report citing "serious deficiencies" in the management of the CHIP program.