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Feb 02

February 2, 2021 TML Coronavirus Update #169

Posted on February 2, 2021 at 1:24 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


Is Congress considering additional stimulus measures and how can we express our support for aid to local governments?


Yes, President Joe Biden is working with the new Congress to pass another economic stimulus and relief package that will include another round of stimulus checks, funding for a nationwide vaccine distribution effort, and aid to states and cities affected by the pandemic.


Please join mayors across Texas in signing this letter urging our Congressional delegation to provide direct and flexible assistance to Texas cities. Mayors interested in signing on to the letter, email your name, city, and electronic signature to by 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 3, to be included.


What additional information on the effect of the virus on the economy has the comptroller compiled?


Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar shared the following information in a special issue of his Fiscal Notes Newsletter titled “Weathering the Pandemic – Texas Industries and COVID-19”:


“All Texas industries have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but some have struggled more than others. In the recently released December/January edition of Fiscal Notes, our office takes a closer look at some of the industries most affected by the pandemic, including hotels and motels, restaurants and bars, retailers, airlines and hospitals. . . .


Nine out of the 10 U.S. industries with the biggest job losses during the pandemic were service providers, including hotels, performing arts venues and restaurants. In Texas, employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries fell by nearly half from February to April 2020 and remained 27 percent lower in November, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. Employment at hotels, restaurants and bars fell by 12.5 percent during this period.


The most significant characteristic shared by the hardest-hit industries is their inherent need to operate in close quarters with their customers; their profitability typically depends on face-to-face encounters or crowds, from restaurants to sports arenas. Many sectors are financially fragile, with little cash on hand to weather an economic downturn. In addition, some businesses have been affected by the lack of consumer confidence and a concern for individual health and safety.


Fiscal Notes furthers the Comptroller’s constitutional responsibility to monitor the state’s economy and estimate state government revenues. It has been published since 1975, featuring in-depth analysis concerning state finances and original research by subject-matter experts in the Comptroller’s office.


For questions about how the agency functions are continuing during the outbreak, visit the COVID-19 News page or our Virtual Field Office. Fiscal Notes is available online and can be received by subscribing via the Comptroller’s website.”


What’s the latest from the comptroller on sales tax revenue during the pandemic?


Yesterday (February 1), Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar issued the following press release:


“State sales tax revenue totaled $3.07 billion in January, which is 0.3 percent less than in January 2020. The majority of January sales tax revenue is based on sales made in December and remitted to the agency in January.


‘The slight decline in total sales tax revenue masks starkly contrasting results among economic sectors, with strong gains in collections from retail trade offset by continued deep declines in collections from recreational services and the oil-and-gas-related sectors,’ Hegar said. ‘Stay-at-home spending trends that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continued through the Christmas shopping season, with elevated receipts coming from online vendors, electronics and appliance stores, building materials and home furnishings stores, big box general merchandisers and sporting goods stores.’


‘While oil and gas well drilling activity has risen from lows reached earlier in the pandemic, the December active rotary rig count for Texas was still more than 60 percent lower than a year ago, depressing sales tax receipts from mining, construction, manufacturing and equipment rental and leasing businesses. Receipts from restaurants also remained below levels seen a year ago, while receipts from recreational services — such as live music venues, amusement parks, bowling centers and fitness clubs — remained severely depressed.’


Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in January 2020 was down 3.9 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Sales tax is the largest source of state funding for the state budget, accounting for 59 percent of all tax collections. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be evident in some sources of revenue in January 2020.


Texas collected the following revenue from other major taxes:


-motor vehicle sales and rental taxes — $408 million, down 13.4 percent from January 2020;

-motor fuel taxes — $294 million, down 4.7 percent from January 2020;

-oil production tax — $255 million, down 35.7 percent from January 2020;

-natural gas production tax — $103 million, down 21.6 percent from January 2020;

-hotel occupancy tax — $27 million, down 35.1 percent from January 2020; and

-alcoholic beverage taxes — $94 million, down 27.6 percent from January 2020.


For details on all monthly collections, visit the Comptroller’s Monthly State Revenue Watch. For an extensive history of tax policy developments and fees since 1972, visit the recently updated Sources of Revenue publication.”


What’s the latest information on the pandemic from other state leagues?


On January 25, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) hosted a COVID-19 interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. In the interview with GMA's Larry Hanson (Executive Director), Rusi Patel (General Counsel), and Kelli Bennett (Director of Communications), Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president) shared an inside look into the COVID-19 vaccines, gave his professional opinion on when we can expect a return to normal, and explained what local leaders can do to engage with and protect their communities.


What resource has the National League of Cities provided to help local leaders support COVID-19 distribution?


On January 15, National League of Cities’ Chief Executive Officer, Clarence Anthony, and Dr. Oscar Alleyne, Chief of Programs and Services at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, spoke in a conversation and Q&A about the role of local leaders in vaccine distribution.


This event kicked off NLC's ongoing conversations with mayors and local elected officials about supporting their communities and ensuring equity in COVID-19 vaccinations.


Further Updates


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.