Texplainer

What's the point of Texas' rainy day fund?

Texas' Economic Stabilization Fund holds more than $11 billion and is the largest in the country. There's a lot of disagreement over how and when to spend the money.

Texplainer

Send us your questions about Texas politics and policy by emailing texplainer@texastribune.org or visiting texastribune.org/texplainer.

 More in this series 

Texas has a savings account worth more than $11 billion. What's it good for?

The Texas Tribune partnered with the education publisher Pearson to answer that and other questions for Texas students.

The short answer: While oil and gas taxes have swelled the state's piggy bank to a record size, there's more disagreement than ever about how that money should be spent. Most lawmakers agree the fund should be used to plug holes in the state budget caused by natural disasters or a sluggish economy, but just how much tax money lawmakers should keep in the state savings account is constantly up for debate.

Watch the video above to learn more — or read our related coverage below:

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

  • With a record $12.5 billion in Texas' savings account, lawmakers set its minimum balance for 2019 at $7.5 billion. The decision means Texas can invest more of its massive Rainy Day Fund — and signals lawmakers' confidence that the current balance is healthy.
  • Without better stewardship of the state's Economic Stabilization Fund and an infusion of new money to cover mounting liabilities, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has warned that credit agencies are likely to downgrade Texas’ credit rating, which would make it more expensive for the state to borrow money — and perhaps damage the state's business climate.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Houston has enough funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery, and if the state needs to tap its rainy day fund for hurricane costs, it won't be until the next legislative session in 2019, he said.