Texas’ sales tax collections closed the budget year short $1.5 billion, or 6.6 percent, of the projected total for 2010, according to figures released by the Texas State Comptroller’s Office.


The decreases in sales tax collections, in addition to higher projected costs for education and health care, have some now predicting the working estimated budget shortfall will be about $21 billion. Some lawmakers and state officials have taken issue with that total and estimate the amount of shortfall is about half that amount. However, all agree there will be a shortfall.   


As collections come in lower than projected, a few state lawmakers are asking Comptroller Susan Combs for more details on the state’s financial health to see if they can get a better picture of the actual shortfall. In a six-page letter to Comptroller Combs, Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin), called on Combs to release more specifics on the state’s financial forecast, current debt, the shortfall of the state’s business tax and the status of the rainy day fund. 


Combs spokesman Allen Spelce has stated the Comptroller does not plan to officially update her revenue forecast and will submit the revenue estimate to the legislature in January. “We’re still looking at the numbers,” Spelce said.


Media sources have reported Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo), vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has suggested that the budget-writing committee start hearings right after the election, rather than waiting until the Legislature convenes in January. “This is the greatest fiscal challenge we’ve ever had,” Raymond said to media reporters.