AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — State lawmakers face a big question mark during the 85th Legislative Session as legislators can only wonder how changes at the federal level might impact Texas.
“We watch Washington here very, very carefully because we need to know where they are going to mess things up next,” said State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo.
President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in Washington D.C. Friday.
“President-elect Trump campaigned heavily on border security, so hopefully we’ll get indications from that administration and D.C. that they are going to take it over,” said State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock.
Facing a tight budget, the state could save hundreds of millions of dollars if it relied on the federal government to secure the border. “That would be everyone’s fondest wish,” said Sen. Seliger. “Because are we going to have to put $1 billion of state money on the border, or is the federal government going to do what’s their job?”
The Director of the Texas Politics Project, Jim Henson, said state legislators “either have to trust the federal government or they’re going to have to play a waiting game.”
Henson added, “But certainly, they’re not going to get clear signals in the Texas legislature from Washington D.C. in time for a lot of these decisions to be made, unless we see unusually fast movement from Washington.”
Another key campaign promise, Trump repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called Obamacare.
Trump told the Washington Post Sunday that his Obamacare replacement plan includes “insurance for everybody.”
While the president-elect did not go into details about his plan, the comment suggests Trump could be moving toward universal healthcare. Republican leaders have outlined replacement plans that aim for “universal access,” not necessarily “universal coverage.”
Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders in Washington have suggested rolling back Medicaid expansions made under Obamacare, cutting the federal subsidies and sending the burden back to the states.
“I don’t want to wait on Washington,” Rep. Burrows said. The Republican out of Lubbock said he has some ideas that would allow the state to build its own path toward better healthcare with lower costs.
“And we don’t need D.C’s approval to do anything on that,” Rep. Burrows said.
Texas, which has the highest number of people without health insurance in the country, is one of a handful of states that did not expand Medicaid to help low-income Americans pay for health insurance.