Forget the talk of budget shortfalls and sacrifice that defined the Texas legislative session of two years ago. When lawmakers return to the Capitol next week, they're expecting a surplus at their disposal.
But key Republican leaders and budget observers say that money won't last long or go far. That's despite a rosier economic picture in Texas than in 2011, when the country was still lurching out of recession and the state unemployment rate was above 8 percent.
Lawmakers slashed spending by $15 billion two years ago, including $5.4 billion gutted from public education. But a revived economy has created a revenue surplus that some estimate could exceed $8 billion.
Democrats are hopeful that money can restore the deepest cuts, while Republicans have vowed to hold the line on spending.