NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Texas lawmakers are stepping into an oily mess. The price of crude oil is plummeting.
"And so we've got to anticipate what that's going to do so we can do a good budget for the next two years," said Travis Clardy, the District 11 state representative.
Oil revenue funds everything about state government. Start with transportation.
"If that pace slows than the money we thought was going to take care of transportation won't be there like the $1.7 billion that we moved over just this last year," Clardy said.
A barrel of West Texas oil has taken a 50 percent drop since June, but it's not limited to out west. There's a reason why oil is called Texas gold.
"Two-hundred and forty counties out of our 254 have oil and gas production, so it's not just a limited region," Clardy said. This isn't just about far west Texas, it's about all of us."
Clardy anticipates the legislature will look at creative ways to sustain the oil and gas industry.
To complicate matters is the declared unconstitutional school finance method. An appeal decision could come right in the middle of setting a budget. The state could be ordered to create a different funding mechanism.
"If we get some surprises there than we're going to have to tweek and work within the budget to get that done by the end of the summer," Clardy said.
Which could place legislators' key projects in a simmer. Both Clardy and Sen. Robert Nichols are going after money to fund an SFA engineering program. Ironically, it would produce the graduates to work in the very industry that keeps the state in the black.