State sales tax revenue is up, good news for state agencies

Lawmakers get back to work in January and the budget is still their top priority when they meet in Austin.

After two years of mandated state budget cuts, Texas is showing strong signs of a recovery, as the newest sales tax receipts are up more than 12 percent.

The good news is making lawmakers and those who rely on state funding, breathe a collective sigh of relief.

For the last couple years, West Texas A&M, along with every state agency which receives funding has had to reduce its budget. W-T relies on about 30% of it's funding from the state, so all cuts went deep.

But now time may be on the University's side, according to WTAMU's Vice President of Business and Finance, Gary Barnes.

"It does look like the state is rebounding and may be in a better financial state going into this legislative session than in the past."

District 87 State Representative, John Smithee adds that he's been impressed with how higher education schools have maintained under the cuts.

"You know, AC & WT have done a remarkable job of keeping their programs going after adverse circumstances..."

The state's sales tax receipts were released over the weekend, and the numbers are better than expected. Texas will receive an additional 1.6 billion dollars more than projected. And lawmakers are hopeful the next session won't require mandatory cutbacks like in the past.

We're seeing in most months, double digit increases and that's good news because the sales tax is our revenue in the state," according to Smithee.

Most univerisites and colleges not only cut back they also had to increase tuition resulting in a double hit. Now with a little breathing room, there's even talk of replacing the cuts that have taken place over the last two years.

"The state's much better now and certainly over the next two bienniums, I think the objective should be to restore as much funding as possible," said Smithee.

"We certainly have our wish list but first would be to restore some of the base funding that had been reduced over the last several years," added Barnes.

Lawmakers get back to work in January and the budget is still their top priority when they meet in Austin.