DALLAS - Amid a continuing boom in oil and gas production, Texas sales tax revenues rose 2.8% to a record $2.41 billion, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reported.

Playing down the revenue milestone, Combs said revenues continue to grow "at a moderate pace as expected."

Combs, 68, who has presided over a dramatic swing in the state's fortunes since taking office Jan. 1, 2007, is not running for re-election next year.

Over the past 44 months, Combs has reported growing sales tax revenues, indicating a steady recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

"Revenue from sectors such as wholesale trade, services industries and restaurants contributed to the most recent increase," she said in issuing this week's report.

Despite the increasing revenues, the state's Republican leaders have chosen to maintain austerity measures that produced the first cuts in education funding and no tax increases despite the state's rapid population growth.

The Texas Department of Transportation, which has cited a shortfall of revenue at a time of extreme demand for new roads, earlier this year said it would allow one 80-mile stretch of paved highway to decay to gravel. TxDOT later rescinded that decision.

The downside to the oil and gas boom has been wear and tear on the state's highways from large trucks carrying heavy supplies to the oil fields and production to market.

Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, told the Dallas Morning News that it's premature to talk about having a cushion of $8 billion or more going into the 2015 legislative session.

"Whether or not there will be a budget surplus, or how big it will be, is entirely speculative," said Dayton, a key House budget writer.

Like Republican state leaders, Dayton blamed "the expanding federal government and the growing federal debt" as a threat to the state's economy.

Under the current federal sequester, Texas is expected to see a reduction in federal funds, particularly affecting the state's military bases and federal employment.

Unemployment in the state fell from 8.3% in February 2010 to 6.2% in the latest report for October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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