Virus Outbreak Texas

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Ethan Johnson, right, sprays hand sanitizer on the hands of a customer entering the Micro Center computer department store in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Concerns persist about the decline in Texas tax revenues even as the number of COVID-19 cases decreases in the state and parts of the economy show improvement.

“The Texas business community is cautiously optimistic with the economic data we’re seeing coming out of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and the Texas Comptroller’s Office,” Aaron Cox, chief operating officer of the Texas Association of Business (TAB), told The Center Square.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ most recent Texas Economic Update projected growth in the state’s economy for the rest of 2020, but uncertainty over further federal relief and the November election could temper that growth, WBAP reported.

State sales tax revenue totaled $2.57 billion in September, down 6.1 percent compared to the same month in 2019, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reported.

Gov. Greg Abbott last month eased some COVID-19 restrictions, increasing capacity at restaurants, retail stores and office buildings from 50% to 75%. Bars remain closed, though Abbott on Monday suggested that he would soon be announcing their reopening.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, the business community must remain agile and ready to address any possible increase in COVID cases, Cox said.

“The next legislative session is likely to be the ‘COVID Session,’ one where the pandemic touches most every aspect of the state’s budget and policy debates around the Capitol,” Cox said.

Education, the workforce, health care and transportation funding, as well regulatory concerns, will be among key issues for discussion, he added.

“Texas lawmakers will need to look for ways to fund critical portions of the state’s economy while balancing the need to keep a pro-business climate of lower taxes, a predictable regulatory system and policies that drive job creation and investment,” Cox said. “In areas like transportation, we know that by taking a fresh look at public-private partnerships for funding our roadways, we can free up state revenue to support other areas of the budget. It’s that kind of innovation that will help us forge a strong recovery and ensure we keep Texas moving forward.”