Texas House Speaker: Tough Decisions Ahead

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus speak to the Dallas Regional Chamber on Tuesday, noting that lawmakers may face tough decisions because of the fiscal forecast.

"We are going to have challenging fiscal session, there is no doubt about that. The comptroller update last week showing a billion dollars less than previously anticipated is not good news," said Straus.

Straus says the state collected $1 billion less than projected in tax dollars because of challenges in the oil and gas sector.

"It's going to be a session that requires a lot of discipline, a lot of focus and some hard choices. We are going to have to have our priorities that we believe in. It is not going to be a session where we say 'yes' to everyone," Straus said.

The speaker said last session was unusual, because the state's oil and gas economy was booming.

"There was plenty of money, more than enough money under our spending limits to meet our needs in the state. This time it is going to be a lot tighter, and we will see what our comptroller's forecast is when we come back in January, but it's going to be tighter for sure," he said.

Still, Straus said the upcoming session won't be as difficult as the 2011 session that followed a national recession and that state faced a $20 billion shortfall.

"So we will get through it but it won't be easy," said Straus.

Straus said his priorities for the session include improving Child Protective Services, improving schools and helping small businesses grow.

Straus has been busy working on down-ballot races for this November. He has not endorsed Donald Trump for president, and says his number-one priority is keeping the strong Texas Republican majority in the House.

Straus wants voters to not be so consumed by the presidential race that they don't pay attention to the other contests. He did get a big chuckle from the crowd, when he said, "I know this has been a season of discord and division in American politics. But I check the calendar every single day. And November 8th is still on it. This election campaign is going to end. And that is a promise I know I can keep."

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