FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, Mike Hodges (TPA Executive Director), Donnis Baggett (TPA Executive Vice President), Jennifer Ricks (Lufkin Daily News), Senator Nichols and Jake Mienk.

Despite strong revenue growth, state government will be short more than $2 billion during the next legislative session, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Corsicana, said Tuesday.

The underfunding of Medicaid and the enormous repairs costs imposed by Hurricane Harvey – a minimum of $500 million – will be largely responsible for the shortfall.

That will occur, Nichols said, despite a strong Texas economy. Sales taxes, which generate approximately 60 percent of the state budget, are up 10 percent from previous years.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar has increased his revenue estimate for the current two-year budget by $2.8 billion, Nichols said.

Texas added more than 350,000 jobs in the last year, he said; state officials expect the economy to continue to grow through next year.

Nichols made his remarks during a meeting with local newspaper publishers, editors, and members of the Texas Press Association at his Jacksonville office.

Public education, transportation, and water will continue to drive the Legislature in the next session. The state senator also plans to meet this fall with all school superintendents in District 3.

East Texans can also expect more construction projects. “You're seeing more highway construction dollars in East Texas than you've seen in many years,” Nichols said. “Projects that focus on connectivity and safety, building shoulders, and turn lanes.

“A good transportation system creates wealth.”