The Texas economy was one of the early victims of the coronavirus, as precautions like social distancing and staying close to home made it nearly impossible for many businesses to thrive. And in the interest of public health, a markets-oriented governor found himself stuck between fighting the spread of the coronavirus and keeping Texas businesses open to customers.
As the economy faltered, so did the underpinnings of the Texas state budget that depends on taxes and fees those businesses generate. The Legislature will return on the second Tuesday of January to figure out how to keep providing the services Texans want during a recession. Here are a few of my columns on the economy and the budget from the last year.
A fast drop for the Texas economy — and for the state budget
April 8: The pandemic’s impact on the Texas economy is a full-on recession, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. And hard financial decisions will mark the next session of the Texas Legislature.
Reopening Texas during a pandemic, cautiously and slowly
April 28: Gov. Greg Abbott wants to reopen the state and to get the economy going. But he also wants to avoid widening the spread of the coronavirus. Texans are about to find out whether it’s possible to have it both ways.
Splitting hairs in Texas, for politics and profit
May 8: The governor and other top Texas officials love promoting the rule of law, but they also love good politics. The civil disobedience of a Dallas beautician forced them to choose a favorite — and maybe hurry changes in pandemic policy.
In a few places in Texas, sales tax revenues have risen in the pandemic
June 15: When Texas stores closed and social distancing began at the beginning of the pandemic, sales naturally dropped. So did sales taxes, and local and state government revenues. But not everywhere, it turns out.
Coronavirus spreads to the Texas state budget
July 22: Now that the first official estimate of the coronavirus’ effect on the Texas economy is out, the hard work starts. Legislators have to figure out which parts of the state budget to cut and which parts to keep.
Texans might be ready for casinos, but lawmakers aren’t convinced
Dec. 14: Casinos are making a serious run at Texas lawmakers, hoping to open up to five gaming destinations in a state that has resisted them for years. But gaming in Texas hasn’t been expanded in almost three decades.
Ross Ramsey is the executive editor of The Texas Tribune.