WHEN THE Texas legislature convened on January 12th, the state House opened its first session with prayer, the pledge of allegiance to the American
WHEN THE Texas legislature convened on January 12th, the state House opened its first session with prayer, the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, and the pledge of allegiance to the Lone Star flag. The 140-day session, which takes place every other year, will be filled with plenty more prayers and promises. Texas, like other states, is grappling with the human and economic toll of the pandemic, but also faces challenges of its own.
The stark economy will rule out new, ambitious proposals. On January 11th the state comptroller estimated that Texas faces a $1bn shortfall, stemming from falling sales-tax revenue and its ailing oil-and-gas industry, which has contributed to a higher unemployment rate in the state than in the nation. However, the $1bn hole is five times smaller than predicted over the summer. Quick cuts to state agencies and tax collections from online sales have helped, but the biggest saviour has proved to be Washington, DC. Already Texas and its local governments have received $13bn through the CARES Act, and more state aid is likely with Democrats controlling the Senate. Texan leaders like Governor Greg Abbott, who made a habit of railing against the Obama administration, may find it wise to be less hostile this time round.
The state’s troubles can be put into three buckets: those that legislators will take up and are essential priorities, those they will not…