By State Rep. Brooks Landgraf
The Permian Basin has been at the heart of America’s energy production for decades. Our region fuels our industries, powers our homes, and drives our nation’s economy forward. And the tax revenue generated by energy production in our region funds critical infrastructure projects, bolsters our education system, and supports essential public services in Texas.
It simply cannot be overstated: the Permian Basin plays a pivotal role in sustaining our way of life. Our region’s energy production not only fuels our state’s economy but also strengthens our nation’s energy security. That is why it is imperative that our state invests in the Permian Basin to ensure its continued growth and productivity.
Currently, severance taxes are deposited in the state general revenue fund, state highway fund and rainy day fund with part of the deposits in general revenue earmarked for public education. Since 2014, severance taxes have contributed $9 billion to public education, $13.3 billion to the state highway fund and $13.3 billion to the rainy day fund. Over that same timespan, a small portion (32 out of 254) of Texas counties generated 80% of the severance tax revenue for a total of nearly $40 billion.
As you can imagine, the majority of those counties are located right here in the Permian Basin.
By reimagining how we allocate severance tax revenue, we can ensure that the communities in the Permian Basin, and other high-energy-producing regions, receive the support they deserve. I filed House Joint Resolution 111 and House Bill 2207 — also known as Texas STRONG — in the previous legislative session, aiming to do just that.
This legislative package sought to amend the Texas Constitution and state law to create the Texas Severance Tax Revenue and Oil and Natural Gas (STRONG) Defense Fund. The STRONG Fund would receive a portion of severance tax revenue for the purpose of supporting transportation infrastructure, workforce and economic development, public education, healthcare, and public safety needs in regions of the state with the highest oil and gas production.
In other words, Texas STRONG would help address everything from teacher and nursing shortages to potholes. Our streets would also be made safer not just with repairs, but with additional boots and badges, ready and trained to enforce CMV laws. Texas STRONG even contained provisions to dedicate portions of the severance taxes collected by the state to be used for property tax relief statewide. It also dedicated some severance tax revenue to plug orphaned wells and clean up Texas air and groundwater contamination.
I am more determined than ever to see this critical legislation become law. In the next legislative session, I intend to continue building on the progress we’ve made and rally support for Texas STRONG, which passed out of the Texas House by a vote of 144-1.
Texas STRONG is more than just a proposal; it is a vision for the future of our great state. It’s a commitment to defending the Texas energy industry, safeguarding our state budget, and strengthening our position in the global arena. And it’s about ensuring that the communities that have long been the backbone of our energy production receive the support they deserve.
I’m incredibly proud to represent the Permian Basin and I will continue fighting tooth and nail for us. When the Permian Basin thrives, Texas thrives, and when Texas thrives, America thrives.
God bless Texas!