AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Texas could face a budget shortfall surprising to state residents who say they believed they weathered the recession better than any other state.
When the Texas Legislature meets in January, Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, will report a shortfall possibly exceeding $21 billion for the next two years -- a shocking number to Texans whose state lawmakers have the authority to cut spending not mandated by federal statute, Stateline.org reported Monday.
"I'm not getting a standing ovation when I'm giving these speeches," Oliveira said.
Many Texans are stunned when they hear the news, since their state's August unemployment rate of 8.3 percent was well below the national rate of 9.6 percent.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Texas also created 129,000 jobs over the past year, and they've also been spared the waves of foreclosures that have pounded California, Florida and Arizona, Stateline.org said.
The state being in the position of having a fairly robust economy and a budget crisis at the same time leads some people to wonder if the money worries might be blown out of proportion but Oliveira says it's for real.
"I've been in the legislature 13 terms and we've never encountered a deficit of this magnitude," he said. "That sum is just mind-boggling to us."