Texas rainy day fund nears $900 million

Sept. 3, 2004 at 12:59 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn Friday reported the state's rainy day fund for fiscal emergencies has grown to nearly $900 million.

Strayhorn transferred $594.5 million into the emergency fund, bringing the fund's balance to $878.1 million. She said the fund should be grown to at least $3 billion, which would be 5 percent of the state's General Fund budget.

The Legislature dipped into the rainy day fund during the 2003 regular session, but an unexpected surge in natural gas severance tax has begun to restore the fund, she said.

Strayhorn said the Texas economy is fighting back and poised to make strides in the near future.

"As I said earlier this week, we have enjoyed an increase in sales tax collections for 12 months running and nine of my 10 economic indicators are in the black," she said.

The rainy day fund can be restored only by appropriations from the Legislature, which has never occurred, or when the state's oil and gas severance taxes rise above a benchmark established in 1987 when the emergency fund was created.

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