Texas Legislature Convenes with Smaller Budget Estimate

When the 85th Texas Legislature convenes Tuesday in Austin, there will be less money for the budget than there was in the 2015 session.

"It is going to be a session that requires a lot of discipline, a lot of focus and some hard choices," said Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, late last year.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Monday he estimated $105 billion will be available for state spending. That is $8 billion less than last session.

Straus expected fewer dollars, because of the price of oil and gas going down. His priorities this sessions include the budget, meeting the needs of Child Protective Services, improving public school funding and improving mental health care in Texas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has laid down his priorities as well. They include balancing the budget, property tax reform, ending sanctuary cities in Texas and a bill called the "Texas Privacy Act." The bill states Texans must use the bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates in public buildings.

"It protects children in school, and everyone who uses a public restroom," said Patrick.

The question is where that bill goes in the House if it passes the Senate. Straus did not mention it in his priorities. Businesses are raising concerns about the bill after what happened when a similar bill was passed in North Carolina. Some businesses and high-profile sporting events left the state, including the NBA All-Star Game and the NCAA basketball tournament.

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