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Texas comptroller declares economic recession over

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Monday, December 12, 2011 - 4:19pm

..AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Comptroller said Monday that the economic recovery is taking hold, producing higher than expected tax revenues and possibly resulting in a budget surplus in 2013.

In a letter to the Legislature, state Comptroller Susan Combs said tax collections were on pace to produce a $1.6 billion budget surplus for the fiscal biennium ending in 2013. That means the state could earn $82.7 billion over the next two years, while the 2012-2013 budget is only $81.1 billion.

In the last two budget cycles, lawmakers were forced to slash government spending to make up for budget deficits and tap the Rainy Day Fund. They cut $4 billion in funding for public schools and shorted $4.8 billion for Medicaid, the health program for the poor and disabled.

But Combs said the Texas economy was in recovery, but still faced some hurdles.

"The recent national recession is over and the economy is once again expanding," Combs said. "Through October 2011, Texas has recovered 94 percent of the jobs lost during the recession; the U.S. just 27 percent."

She warned that while there was the threat of another recession, "the most likely scenario continues to be one of slow, steady recovery from the worst recession since World War II."

The state's Republican leadership will likely feel justified in slashing the budget over Democratic objections and refusing to raise taxes. But many lawmakers, both Republican and Democratic, expect the Legislature to still face tough choices in 2013.

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