Anticipating and mitigating the effects of a projected budget shortfall is currently a major focus in Austin. The state's two-year general revenue budget is around $80 billion. While the exact revenue shortfall has been debated, budget experts project the state revenue shortfalls will exceed $10 billion for the upcoming biennium covering the 2012 and 2013 state fiscal years.
The good news is the Texas economy has weathered the economic storm better than virtually every other state in the nation. With more Fortune 500 companies than any other state and no income tax, Texas has one of the strongest economies in the country. Furthermore, Chief Executive Magazine has once again named Texas the No.1 state in which to business, thanks to our pro-business climate.
Budget shortfalls are never easy, but fortunately our state executives and lawmakers have been preparing for revenue decreases by identifying savings for the past several years. For instance here at the Texas Department of Agriculture, we returned more than $5 million to the state treasury last biennium by delivering a greatly increased number of services through more efficient means. And for the current biennium, we worked with the Legislative Budget Board to identify budget reductions of more than $5 million in response to a statewide effort at all agencies to find savings.
State budgeters also are already looking ahead to the next two years to find the savings needed to keep Texas living within its means as compared to other states that have accrued enormous debts during this economic downturn. We live in a prosperous state, and we will make sure we keep it that way for generations to come.