DALLAS — The two primary sources of revenue for Texas — property value and sales — both rebounded in 2011, according to state Comptroller Susan Combs.
Assessed value of property in the state grew 1.3% to $1.69 trillion after falling for the first time in 17 years in 2010, Combs reported. The 2010 decline affected state and local budgets, leading to the Legislature’s first-ever cut in public school funding.
While the positive trend is not expected to change the fortunes of public schools this year, officials are clearly happy about the new direction.
“By December 2011, Texas employers replaced all 433,400 jobs shed during the recession as our economy rebounded more quickly than the U.S. as a whole, and continues to add jobs,” Combs wrote in a report this week.
“In 2011, Texas real gross domestic product grew by 2.4%, compared with 1.6% GDP growth for the nation,” she added.
Combs also reported Wednesday that January state sales tax revenue of $2 billion in January rose 9.5% compared to January 2011.
“Sales tax revenue continues to grow in almost all major economic categories and revenue has now increased for 22 consecutive months,” the comptroller said. “The recent monthly increase was led by the oil and natural gas-related sectors. Restaurants and services sectors also showed significant gains.”
Combs will send February local sales-tax allocations totaling $708.5 million to cities, counties, transit systems and special-purpose taxing districts, up 8.2% compared to February 2011.
The January rise matched the growth in December, notching 21 consecutive months of increases.
Despite the positive numbers, the state Legislature is probably going to have to tap its rainy-day fund in 2013 because of $4.3 billion in unpaid Medicaid obligations, Combs told the Austin American-Statesman.
The fund is expected to hit $7.3 billion by the end of the budget biennium in 2013.
That would be about $1.6 billion higher than expected at the end of the 2011 session of the Legislature.
The gradual economic recovery, though stronger in Texas, has left Texans in much less comfortable economic circumstances, according to a report from the nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development.
A January report from the organization found that nearly 28% of households in Texas were “asset poor,” meaning they have little or no financial cushion if a family member loses a job.
“Excluding important assets such as a vehicle or home, the [liquid] asset poverty rate increases to 50.6% of Texas residents,” the report said.
The 2012 assets and opportunity scorecard ranked Texas 41st in the country overall for how their residents fare in terms of achieving financial security across 52 measures in five different issue areas.
Many Texas’ residents have jobs, but they lack adequate savings or other assets to cover expenses for three months if they lose a steady income, according to the report.