Better East Texas: Preparing for changing financial world

Better East Texas: Preparing for changing financial world
Published: May. 21, 2020 at 6:57 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The state and local governments have largely done a solid job during the Covid public health response. There may be some strategy points that can be debated, but that is largely a result of being able to look back and armchair quarterback the situation.

Now it is time for these same entities and others to prepare economically for the next Covid response. Texas will be facing a state revenue, tax generated shortfall in the coming legislative session. Local governments – city and county - will also be faced with reduced and changing tax bases.

The Texas Legislature will meet in 2021 and work is casually beginning now to plan the state’s budget for the next two years after that session. So, state leaders must find a way to be nimble and meet a dynamic financial situation that will be present for some time to come. No one knows how long, but planning for the worst will soften the impact.

Enter the Texas Rainy Day Fund that has nearly nine billion, with a B, dollars in it. A portion of this must be used to fill in the gaps in revenue. Then local governments must find a way to balance revenue and expenses and it cannot be business as usual. Taxing entities cannot just use existing methods to generate revenue through property taxes and appraisals, notices of which are being delivered now. There will be no stimulus impact if tax increases wipeout stimulus payments and savings. So now is the time for state and local leadership to emerge and find a way to reduce the tax burden, which will lead to a stronger economy and a Better East Texas.