AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 26) - For freshly returned lawmakers in Austin, the fundamental challenge is fairly simple--more Texans to serve and less money to serve them with.
With the wind knocked out of the Texas oil patch, revenue is expected to slide some $6 billion and that means legislators must decide what part of government gets squeezed.
Larry Taylor of Friendswood chairs the Senate Education Committee and tells Fox 26 if the ax falls, it's unlikely to come at the expense of kids in the Texas public schools.
"So we have to do more with what we have. I don't think we are going to be cutting education," said Taylor, a Republican. "In fact I'm looking for some money to get all of education on broadband across the whole state and we will do that this session with every campus with broadband access."
With little spare money to scrap over, lawmakers are likely to lock horns over a slate of socially conservative issues topped by a controversial bill limiting bathroom access for Transgender folks.
Democrats are calling the measure both economically dangerous and an unnecessary distraction.
"You know this is a job killing bill, but more importantly it's a discriminatory bill and frankly it's a lot of nonsense. We have better things to do. We need to be big boys and girls and deal with the real issues at hand," said State Senator Sylvia Garcia, a Houston Democrat.
Underscoring that opposition on this second day of the session were top convention and tourism leaders from Texas and across the country who promised the Lone Star State will ultimately lose billions of dollars worth of business if the "trans bathroom bill" becomes law.
"If discriminatory legislation passes in Texas we will not bring our meetings to Texas," said Bill Reed, Chairman of the Professional Convention Management Association.
Citing North Carolina and Indiana, bathroom bill opponents say Texas could lose 185,000 jobs. Bathroom bill opponents call the claim a baseless scare tactic.