KBTX Interviews Dennis Jansen on Covid-19 Relief Bill, State and Local Economies

Jan 05, 2021
Summary: In an interview on Monday, January 4, 2020, Director Dennis Jansen spoke about the Covid-19 Relief bill, the economic recovery effort, as well as state and local budgets on KBTX news.
The Covid-19 Relief Bill includes much needed support for businesses with the return of the Paycheck Protection Program, expanded unemployment compensation benefits, and direct payments to qualified residents. However, Jansen stated, “In the long run, it’s the vaccines that will make the major improvements to our economy – both statewide and nationally. So, the Relief Bill provides some funds to provide temporary help to those who were – and still are - impacted by the virus, and the vaccine helps provide hope for a more permanent solution – a resolution to our economic problems.”
Even as the local economy continues its slow trend towards recovery, the state’s fiscal situation is much more dire as budget deficit projections roll in. “…It’s clear that there’s a hole in the budget – that’s obvious – and to some extent, it may be closer to 8% than 5%. It’s certainly running at 8% at the close of this fiscal year. That’s going to cause problems at many state agencies including, most likely, unfortunately, Texas A&M University. Texas does have a balanced budget requirement and the state will be required to cut spending or increase taxes to fill in that budget hole.”
Cuts to the state budget would have far-reaching effects. “The state budget funds roads, it funds prisons, it funds certain public safety [programs], it certainly funds healthcare (Medicaid). It funds education, higher education, and assorted other goods and services. A tighter state budget will lead to cutbacks in some or all of these areas. Locally, our city and county governments depend on sales taxes, and to a lesser extent, hotel occupancy taxes and alcoholic beverage taxes and these are all down this year. Sales taxes are down about 5% this fiscal year and the hotel taxes and alcoholic beverage taxes are down double-digit amounts,” said Jansen.
To see full interview on KBTX, click here.