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Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:52 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Rebecca Rose

Killeen Daily Herald

Curious Texans can now take a closer look at how their state spends money through a new website recently unveiled by the state comptroller's office.

TheTexasEconomy.org compiles state economic data, news and analysis. It features state revenue and spending data, more than a dozen economic indicators and analysis on a variety of topics, including Texas industries and jobs, the ongoing drought's effect on the state economy and the impact of obesity on Texas businesses and taxpayers.

R.J. DiSilva, spokesperson for the comptroller's office, said the state agency tracks large amounts of diverse data on a regular basis, including tax revenue, job growth, housing and building permits.

"We have (data) on different parts of (the state comptroller's) website," he said. "We consolidated all that data and put it on one site."

DiSilva said the website was designed with the purpose of helping Texas residents, business owners and policymakers connect with economic data in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand format.

"We wanted to leverage that information and put it all on one site so anyone - even someone who is looking to move to the state - can easily access it."

One goal was to incorporate multimedia and interactive elements, such as slideshows and videos. DiSilva said the idea was to present complex data in a way that was easy to understand. The website features economic information in informational graphics, video interviews, tables and snapshots of key data.

The website won't replace the state comptroller's current website but will serve as a supplemental resource. DiSilva said there were no additional costs to operate the new website.

In a press release, Comptroller Susan Combs said access to the government's economic information is "paramount to individual success."

Site visitors can see yearly state trends in home sales, sales tax collections, commercial building statistics and more. They can view employment growth by industry or delve deeper into how the state spends money on public education. The site also covers economic indicators, such as an analysis of the state's natural resources. It has information on the state's use of water and other resources, as well as how those resources are impacted by regulations and more.

DiSilva said natural resources can have a significant impact on many sectors of the economy, especially when a disaster strikes.

"We suffered through a pretty significant drought last year," he said. "We put out reports specifically related to natural resources like water."

The site also covers topics that may indirectly influence the state's economy, including studies on health care. The site has an in-depth look at obesity, a hot topic in health care.

DiSilva said the state looks at the ways obesity impacts local businesses in terms of health care costs and other costs.

"We look at obesity in terms of the aspect that it's a health concern," he said. "But on top of that, it can have an effect on businesses."

On the website is the state comptroller's analysis of the impact of obesity in Texas, and the economic benefits of curbing the chronic condition. The site also includes a video interview with Combs on how obesity affects local businesses.

Contact Rebecca Rose at rebeccar@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548.

Wealth of data

People can subscribe to The Texas Economy email list to get the latest economic updates. To sign up, go to www.TheTexasEconomy.org.

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