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The Brief: Straus lays out legislative agenda

During an interview Tuesday, House Speaker Joe Straus said one of his concerns for the upcoming legislative session is for lawmakers to restore funding for disabled children’s in-home therapy services.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is shown at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 19, 2016.

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Tribune Today

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The Big Story

In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, House Speaker Joe Straus laid out some of his priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Here are some of his top concerns:

•  Straus said Tuesday he plans to restore funding for disabled children’s in-home therapy services in a supplemental budget, noting that the cuts were “well intentioned” but that “maybe they were a mistake.” 

•  He said he also intends to prioritize funds to shore up the foster care and Child Protective Services systems and make improvements to the state’s mental health care safety net and called for reforms to the state’s school finance system, which the Texas Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in May while sharply criticizing it as in need of improvement.

• Straus said passing a balanced budget is going to be a "difficult task" this upcoming legislative session and that it was “too early to tell” whether there would be room for additional tax cuts in 2017. He added that Texas lawmakers could not afford to continue ordering funding increases for border security and called on the incoming Trump administration to shoulder some of those costs.

• During his interview, Straus also exposed some possible fault lines with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, downplaying the urgency of politically touchier proposals that have risen to the top of Patrick’s priorities list — including an anti-transgender bill regarding bathroom use, which is opposed by business leaders, and proposals to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” a vague designation for municipalities that pass protections for undocumented immigrants.

#TxLege Today 

The Select Committee to Determine a Sufficient Balance of the Economic Stabilization Fund will meet today (9 a.m. E1.036) to determine and adopt a sufficient balance to maintain in the Economic Stabilization Fund. See the full committee schedule

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

HUD secretary says Trump won't stop 'robust momentum', POLITICO 

Gov. Greg Abbott says he's cut money to Texas 'sanctuary cities,' but he hasn't, The Dallas Morning News

Rationale for Texas’ Largest Corporate Welfare Program was a ‘Typographical Error’, Texas Observer

The amazing decline in Texas homelessness, Houston Chronicle

Big Bend National Park visitors worry about Trump's proposed 'border wall'The Dallas Morning News

Today in TribTalk

"While many Americans living in Texas and across the country have concerns about the agenda of the incoming Trump administration, children living in El Paso and along the U.S.-Mexico border have perhaps the most pressing and heartbreaking questions one could imagine."

— David DeMatthews, Assistant professor, the University of Texas at El Paso

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University on Dec. 1 at The Austin Club

•   San Antonio & the Legislature: A Preview of the 85th on Dec. 2 at University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown Campus

•   A Conversation with Sen.-elect Dawn Buckingham & Rep.-elect Hugh Shine on Dec. 8 at Temple College – Arnold Student Union

•   Health Care and the 85th Legislature on Dec. 15 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio - Pestana Lecture Hall

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

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