Dear Friends,

As Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I have been working throughout this pandemic to ensure that state and local agencies have the necessary resources to protect public health and assist Texans struggling economically. I have also been preparing for the tough budget decisions that lie ahead.

Unforeseen costs related to the coronavirus, a steep loss in revenue due to business closures and the worldwide slowdown on energy production - which is vitally important to the Texas economy - have translated into significant changes to the Texas budget.

Fortunately, Texas is in a much stronger position than other states to recover from these setbacks. As of mid March, the Texas economy was performing at an extremely high level with 117 consecutive months of annual growth. We left $2.67 billion unspent in the Treasury last session with an estimated $11.2 billion in the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. Our commitment to responsible budgeting will serve us well in the months and years ahead.

When June revenue reports become available, the Comptroller will update his state revenue forecast, which will likely include a significant budget shortfall. As we also saw in May, we are expecting June revenue reports to show a drop in economic activity due to stay-at-home orders.

Having served on the Senate Finance Committee through previous multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls, I understand the tough decisions we will face. But, I also recognize the opportunity we have to scrub the budget, looking for efficiencies and to re-establish our priorities. As Finance Chair, I have put every state agency on notice: when I start writing the budget this fall, we will start from zero.

My Depression-era parents taught me an important lesson: if you don't have it, don't spend it. That principle is enshrined in the Texas Constitution, which requires a pay-as-you-go budget that does not exceed our means.

You can count on me to uphold that principle heading into the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature.

Very truly yours,

Senator Jane Nelson

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