Cash crunch, bathroom bill battle await Texas lawmakers

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst are unveiling the text of a so-called "bathroom bill" on Jan. 5, 2017. Courtesy: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas lawmakers return to Austin Tuesday facing a cash crunch and tensions over a North Carolina-style transgender bathroom bill, while economic realities will soon clash with promises to cut taxes and fix a broken child welfare system.

What bills Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signs after the next 140 days may also depend heavily on what happens in the White House.

President-elect Donald Trump's promises to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border, which could free up money at a time when Texas is spending nearly $1 billion on border security.

Lawmakers will need to pinch every penny. A long oil slump has chewed away at the state budget, leaving Texas at least $5 billion short of what it needs to preserve current programs over the next two budget years.