A forecast released last week by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs predicts that an expanding economy will generate an unexpected $1.6 billion for state coffers over the next two years.

Combs said revenues in fiscal 2012-2013 could total $82.7 billion. The current two-year state general fund budget is $81.1 billion.

Collections in fiscal 2010-2011 totaled $76.4 billion.

“The recent national recession is over and the economy is once again expanding,” Combs said in a letter to the Legislature. “Through October 2011, Texas has recovered 94% of the jobs lost during the recession; the U.S. just 27%.”

 By the end of fiscal 2013, Combs said, the state’s rainy-day fund is forecast to reach $7.3 billion.

The fastest growing sector in the state is oil and gas exploration and production, she said.

The report said the number of oil and gas drilling rigs has almost doubled to 885 in August from a low of 329 rigs in June 2009.

The energy sector added 16,800 jobs in fiscal 2010 and 36,400 jobs in fiscal 2011. Job growth is expected to slow to 1.5% over the next two years.

The sole dim spot in the comptroller’s forecast is slow growth in residential construction.

The Texas sales tax is expected to generate $45.2 billion over the next two years, up from $41 billion in fiscal 2010-2011.

Motor vehicle sales and rental taxes, the next largest revenue source for the state, are expected to total $6.3 billion over the period, up from $5.6 billion.

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