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
When I sent the cities and counties their sales tax allocations early last December, I promised “This year, the Grinch isn't going to steal Christmas.” That proved exactly right. And it was just the beginning.
A rebounding Texas economy, a successful tax amnesty program conducted by my office and strong tax collections from oil and gas companies drove the state’s fiscal 2004 general revenues $1.8 billion above those of 2003.
We closed the state’s books August 31, and I can tell you that fiscal 2004 was truly an economic bumper crop of a year for Texans. By year-end, nine of my 10 leading economic indicators were pointing up and we had enjoyed 12 straight months of state sales tax gains.
The Texas economy has fought back, and I predict our state will outpace the nation by increasing strides. This fiscal year, Texas gross product growth will edge that of the nation by a tenth of a percent; this will grow to eight-tenths by fiscal 2006, then to over a full point each year by 2008 and 2009. Texans won’t be stopped in their drive for a greater future.
I am also pleased to announce that our state’s Rainy Day Fund has grown to $878.5 million due to a surge in tax collections that Texas natural gas producers pay to the state. I believe, however, that the Rainy Day Fund balance remains well below where it needs to be. We should build it to at least $3 billion, which would be just 5 percent of our state’s general revenue budget. The money in the Rainy Day Fund should only be used for a true emergency. Texas government needs to budget like any hard-working Texas family—spend wisely, invest wisely and save for a rainy day.
Our fiscal plowhorses are pulling strongly for now, but no one should forget the events that struck suddenly in the last budget cycle. I will not make any premature revision to the official revenue. With half the biennial acreage still left to plow, I will continue to monitor the situation and will keep all Texans advised as to our fiscal progress.
Thanks for all that you do for Texas.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn