"He devises wickedness on his bed;
He sets himself in a way that is not good;
He does not abhor evil."
During an appearance in Ft. Worth earlier this week, Joe Straus made the following alarming comment:
While the Texas Legislature had plenty of accomplishments, the next session, in 2017, will likely be more difficult on the back of falling oil revenues and the strong dollar.Given that we're talking about Joe Straus, we have to parse this answer.
“We are just about out of easy answers,” he said. “The next answers are going to require a lot of work and a lot of creativity.”
[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
In 2011, on the heels of the last budget shortfall, Joe Straus said: “We have no choice… you can’t cut your way to prosperity.” Later, when confronted about using identical language as Barack Obama, Straus 'joked' about having been "candid and realistic." Nonetheless, Straus' eagerness to raise taxes in 2011 was well documented.
Furthermore, before he became speaker, Joe Straus voted for tax hikes on several occasions.
Alternatively, Straus could be staking out a negotiating position. Remember, last session Joe Straus allowed Democrats to waste precious hours of legislative time with a debate over the minimum wage that was doomed to fail. Even if a push for a state income tax failed (which it would), just having the debate gives Democrats leverage.
Bottom Line: Between global economic chaos and collapsing oil prices, by 2017 Texas could face a much more challenging fiscal environment. Against that backdrop, Joe Straus talking about being "out of easy answers" and a need for "creativity" makes us nervous. We've seen this movie before.