DALLAS — Texas sales tax collections in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 are up 11% from the same period of fiscal 2012, with November revenues of $2.339 billion exceeded only by the record $2.342 billion collected in August.

Sales tax collections in the first months of fiscal 2013 total $6.35 billion, Comptroller Susan Combs said Wednesday.

Combs predicted a 0.4% revenue growth for the year in the official estimate published in December 2011. However, revenues have consistently exceeded expectations since fiscal 2013 began Sept. 1.

The state will distribute $552 million of November’s sales tax collection to cities, counties, transit systems, and special purpose taxing districts. The allocation is up 15.5% from $478.3 million in November 2011.

Collections in fiscal 2012, the first year of the state’s two-year budget, were $5 billion more than expected by the Comptroller’s Office. Revenues in fiscal 2013 could beat expectations by $3 billion or more, based on current trends.

Combs predicted state general fund tax revenues of $40.28 billion in fiscal 2013, including $22.7 billion from the sales tax, $4.1 billion from the business franchise tax, and $3.2 billion of motor fuel taxes.

Total state revenues of $91.6 billion expected in fiscal 2013 include $7.5 billion of fees, fines, and penalties, and $35.5 billion from the federal government.

Oil production tax revenue is up 61% from the same period of fiscal 2012, with total collections of $661.8 million in the period. Taxes on natural gas production are off 31% for the quarter, Combs said, with total collections of $317.7 million.

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said the billions of dollars in unexpected revenue will allow the 2013 Legislature to focus on preparing for projected population growth.

Texas had 25 million residents in 2010, Straus said, but demographers expect the state’s population to top 45 million by 2040.

“They need to be educated,” he said. “They need to have opportunities. We have not done a very good job in recent years of addressing serious issues.”

The Legislature convenes Jan. 8 for its 140-day session.

The Legislature adopted a two-year budget in June 2011 with spending of $172.3 billion over the biennium.

The 2012-2013 budget removed $4 billion from state aid to local education by adjusting the funding formula down and provided no funding for the 80,000 new students enrolling each year in Texas public schools.

One of the Legislature’s top priorities will be restoring the $2 billion for enrollment growth, Straus said.

Straus said last week he was encouraged by the proposal from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to establish a bond-financed water supply infrastructure bank with $1 billion from the state’s $8.1 billion Rainy Day fund.

Providing sufficient water supplies for future generations is “one of the issues that we absolutely have to seriously address,” Straus said.

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