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Joe Straus: The House Budget Is About 'Priorities,' Not 'Numbers'

Ryan E. Poppe
Texas Public Radio
House Speaker Joe Straus

House Speaker Joe Straus is defending the preliminary state budget his chamber has released even though it calls for spending more money than the Texas Comptroller has said will be available.   The House’s draft budget is also bigger than the Texas Senate’s. 

The House’s budget plan is $8 billion more than what the Senate has proposed spending during the next two years, and $4 billion more than what Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar estimated would be available.

Straus, a San Antonio Republican, says the House’s budget reflects priorities that will require some money.

“This budget recognizes that we have had a slowdown in our oil and gas sector, causing state tax dollars to decrease.  But it also recognizes that we have not seen a slow in our population growth," he says.

Straus says there’s money in the House budget to begin reforming the state’s system for funding public schools and to pay for needed improvements in the foster care system.

“I thought it was more important this time around than to come to some philosophical answer to the budget and just work to a number.  The House’s approach is to work to priorities, we know it doesn’t balance, we know there is some tough decisions to be made,” Straus says. 

At a meeting with business leaders Wednesday Straus also said the Senate’s transgender bathroom bill, supported by the Lieutenant Governor may be bad for business.  The Texas Association of Business estimates the bill’s impact would cause Texas to lose $8.5 billion dollars in tax revenues from businesses leaving Texas or cancelling events like the NCAA Final Four which San Antonio is set to host in 2018.