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Comptroller News

ECONOMY

Strayhorn warns of slowing growth in U.S. economy

Pointing to national economic developments, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn warned in November that the state's economy would continue to grow at a healthy rate, but at a slower pace than previously forecast.

"The nation's leading indicators index remains in positive territory, but it has shrunk every month since April when I released the spring forecast," Strayhorn said.

Economists with the Comptroller's office recently completed the fall 2004 economic forecast. With the state's increasing ties to U.S. performance, Texas economists pay close attention to national developments when forecasting the direction of the state economy.

Strayhorn highlighted slower than previously predicted growth in Texas' real gross state product, personal income and nonfarm employment, but was upbeat in delivering her more moderate forecast.

"Texas' gross state product will still slightly outpace the gross national product every year during calendar years 2005, 2006 and 2007," Strayhorn said.


TAXES

Comptroller launches Medicaid drug investigation

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announced in November she is launching an investigation into possible Medicaid prescription drug fraud and abuse that in the state's foster care system alone costs taxpayers an estimated $4 million a year.

"Children as young as three years old are receiving powerful, mind-altering drugs," Strayhorn said. "We need to examine a year's worth of data to determine whether these drugs are being prescribed to make our foster children more submissive or to line the pockets of unscrupulous and uncaring doctors and pharmaceutical companies, or both."

Strayhorn said she was particularly concerned about the use and side effects of the atypical antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Zyprexa.


ECONOMY

Arlington Super Bowl estimated $419 million economic boost

In October, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn estimated $419 million in economic gain if Arlington hosted a Super Bowl at its proposed new stadium.

"A new stadium in Arlington would have the potential to draw the Super Bowl to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, possibly as early as 2011," Strayhorn said. "[National Football League] Commissioner Paul Tagliabue stated the proposed stadium could host a Super Bowl that year. That event would bring more than 100,000 visitors to Texas, who would leave behind quite a few of their dollars. No matter who wins that big game, Arlington and Texas would be big winners."

The Comptroller estimated the economic gain for Super Bowl XXXVIII, held at Houston's Reliant Stadium in February 2004, to be $336 million. Arlington voters approved the new stadium in November.


SALES TAX

October strong for sales tax collections

State sales tax collections rose in October by 8 percent compared with October 2003, according to Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. The state's October sales tax revenue was $1.29 billion, and Strayhorn sent $417.8 million in November sales tax rebates to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts, up 6.2 percent compared with November 2003.

"Sales tax collections continue to grow as this economic bumper crop of a year enters the crucial fourth quarter for Texas businesses and the holiday shopping season," Strayhorn said.

For details of November sales tax payments, visit the Comptroller's Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/allocsum/compsum.html.