Comptroller: Texas economy continues to boom
There are significant challenges faced by the low price of oil and losses in the manufacturing sector, but a diverse economy has Texas positioned for a strong future, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said.
He delivered a State of the State update last week during a quarterly meeting of the Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce.
"You know who is most prepared for an economic downturn?" Hegar asked. "Texas. I wouldn't even bring it up if it weren't Texas."
He boasted that Texas ranks as the No. 12 economy in the world, and soon will move past Canada and into the No. 11 position.
There's an average of 650 people moving to Texas on a daily basis, Hegar said.
"Why do people want to move here?" he asked. "The same reason my family did in 1846. They want an economic opportunity for themselves, an economic opportunity for the future."
Hegar admits to being disillusioned by politicians and government, although he's served in the Texas House and Senate prior to becoming the state's comptroller.
"I really dislike government," he said.
Texas residents should ask, "Does government really serve you? Is it representative of the people, by the people and for the people," Hegar said.
The challenges facing Texas involve losses in energy production and manufacturing, two of the state's three largest employment sectors.
"We've lost 60,000 mining jobs in Texas in the last year. Manufacturing has lost 40,000 jobs," Hegar said. "If you are one of those who have lost your job, it is very serious."
Considering all employment sectors, Texas has gained jobs, he said.
"Texas has a strong foundation," Hegar said. "Do we face some headwinds? Absolutely. But do we have some tailwinds? Absolutely."
Hegar is the state's chief revenue estimator, a role that allows legislators to understand the funding that will allow for a budget to be set.
"Is there anyone with 100 percent accuracy who can predict the amount of money that will come in your house now and project it out two years?" Hegar asked. "We get to do that for 27 million people in 254 counties. It is one of the most diverse, strong economies in the entire world. It's hard to predict that far out."
There are about 2,900 employees in the comptroller's office, tasked with handling those responsibilities and others. If Hegar signed 96 checks a minute, it would cover all the payments made by his office.
"That tells you the scope of the operation." he said.
He asked for help in finding the owners of $4 billion in unclaimed property, including $3.6 million in property belonging to Burleson residents and $18.9 million in unclaimed property belonging to Johnson County residents.
"Someone forgot they had a gold bar, and it's worth $250,000," Hegar said. "Who would forget that?"
Texas residents may perform a search for unclaimed property at claimittexas.org.
Although he no longer serves in the Texas Legislature, Hegar still gets feedback. One piece of advice he received following a speech stands out.
"The man said I was wrong. I finally got him to tell me about what," Hegar said. "He said we need to meet in session every year, and in the second year repeal everything you did in the first year."