When the 77th Legislature convenes this month, legislators will be responsible for allocating $60.8 billion that will be available for general revenue-related appropriations for the 2002-03 biennium. State law requires the Comptroller to determine these amounts in the Biennial Revenue Estimate, which serves as a blueprint for lawmakers as they draft a state appropriations or spending bill for the 2002-03 biennium.
10 Principles for Texas
in the 21st Century
Develop a better-educated workforce
Direct more of every education dollar into the classroom
Raise the bar on student performance
Cut taxes in Texas
Introduce competition into Texas government
Improve government performance and accountability
Reduce the size of government
Bring common sense to regulations
Use technology to cut costs and increase quality
Return control to communities and individuals
There will be money to pay our bills, but the economic furnace is cooling. As a mamma and a grandmamma, I know that our Texas family must budget like any other family spend wisely, invest wisely and save for a rainy day.
I am pleased the Rainy Day Fund has more than doubled since I took office. By November 2003, the Rainy Day Fund will exceed $1 billion. Putting money into the Rainy Day Fund will help Texas regain its AAA bond rating and save millions of dollars in the future.
The revenue the legislature will have to spend comes from three sources: tax collections; the ending balance from the previous biennium; and non-tax receipts such as lottery proceeds, interest on funds held by the state and fees. Leftover cash from 2000-01 can be expected to provide a $2.9 billion surplus.
General revenue-related revenues for 2002-03 are expected to increase 5.5 percent, a reflection of our strong economy. The economic expansion we've enjoyed is slowing, however, and the growth rate of sales tax collections is expected to be 7.1 percent in 2002-03, down from 12 percent in 2000-01 and 15.4 percent in 1998-99. The lottery continues to decline and disappoint.
The prospect of leaner times ahead makes it all the more important for state government to stay trim. To help make that happen, I released my report: e-Texas: Smaller, Smarter Faster Government, Volumes I & II, in December. My proposed 129 statutory changes will result in $1.21 billion in total savings or gains to the General Revenue Fund and an additional $1.14 billion in state dedicated funds are saved or gained over the next two years.
The e-Texas report, a tremendous public-private effort of more than 150 citizens and my staff, will put Texas at the forefront of governments that place an emphasis on providing better services to their customers the taxpayers.
Government will be seen as bigger, dumber and slower than ever before if we dont become smaller, smarter and faster right now. E-Texas is the cornerstone of my administration.
CAROLE KEETON RYLANDER
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts