With more money on the books this time around, Texas lawmakers are preparing to return to Austin next week to begin the first legislative session of the New Year.
Unlike the last time lawmakers gathered at the Capitol, when they faced a $27 billion shortfall, there will potentially be much more in funds available to use towards their legislative goals over the next two years. As of now, Lawmakers are looking at an estimated $8 billion surplus, which could help the state avoid some of the major financial cuts to public education and Medicaid that were seen in 2011.
With unemployment in the Lone Star State at a four-year low, and increased revenue flowing in, the Texas Comptroller's Office says the state is in a much better position than it was two years ago. Most of the $3.2 billion that was borrowed from the state's "rainy day" fund has also been repaid in full.
Many watch groups expect the battle over what to do with the extra money to be as fierce as ever. Democrats will likely look to reverse some of the cuts made during the last session, while Republicans will look to keep spending under control.
The Comptroller's Office is set to release a revenue estimate for the two years ahead on Monday, January 7th.