June 8, 2012
NEWS OF THE WEEK
Texas’ business tax exceeding expectations
Texas businesses have paid almost $4.3 billion in franchise taxes this year, a figure that exceeds expectations and provides yet another signal of the improving health of the state budget.
State leaders tell agencies to ask for no more money
Gov. Rick Perry and key legislative leaders asked state agencies on Monday to request no more money next session than what they were given last year.
Agencies Ordered to Propose 10 Percent Budget Cuts
State agencies looking for money in next year’s budget won’t find any — at least not at first. State legislative leaders ordered them to cut 10 percent from their current budgets when writing their spending proposals for the next two-year budget.
Big 3 justify budget instructions, say frugality spurred Texas’ success
A day after their minions gave state agencies the word, Texas’ Big 3 on Tuesday added rhetorical icing to what looks like a pretty flat budget cake being baked for next year’s legislative session.
Leftover campaign cash can influence elections for years to come
When politicians quit or fail to get re-elected, they face a dilemma most people would relish: trying to figure out how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of other people’s money.
Is “moderate” a dirty word in politics?
That’s the question Bob Schieffer asked Republican Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” after showing a campaign ad run by a conservative group which called Texas Senate candidate David Dewhurst a “moderate.” Dewhurst, who is Texas lieutenant governor, is up against Tea Party-backed Ted Cruz in a Republican run-off next month in the race to replace Hutchison, who is retiring from the Senate.
DAVE MCNEELY: Where’s logic in GOP birth control stance?
First, we’re going to limit the school instruction to our kids about sex and birth control to — nothing. Just say no. Despite all those hormones running around in their bodies, we’re only going to preach — uh, teach — abstinence. Then, if our teenage girls somehow failed to adequately get the message, and turn up pregnant, we’ll do everything we can to make them carry the pregnancy to term. To help ensure that they do, we’re going to outlaw spending Medicaid money in Texas on Planned Parenthood.
Watch out for voter registration cancellations
Walter Pinkston, a Friendswood retiree and faithful Harris County voter, got a letter in late March asking his family to confirm that he was dead – which he was not – and warning that he was about to be purged from Texas voter rolls.
Disney To Ban Junk-Food Ads For Kids As America Struggles With Its Fat Problem
Disney announced Tuesday it was banning junk-food ads aimed at kids on its television networks (including on ABC, which Disney owns), becoming one of the first corporations to publicly take a stand against this problem. Starting in 2015, food makers will have to adhere to Disney’s new nutrition policy, limiting calories, sugar and sodium content. As of now, a number of current products advertised on Disney channels will not fit the bill, including Kraft’s (K) Capri Sun juice pouches, Lunchables and other sugary cereals.
Hunger Study: One in Four Texas Children at Risk
One in four Texas children was at risk of going hungry in 2010, according to a study released Monday by Feeding America, a charity focused on relieving hunger.
Put teeth in gas-pump enforcement
On an individual basis, the amounts of money drivers lose to malfunctioning gasoline pumps aren’t that significant. As Express-News staff writer Joe Yerardi revealed in his Sunday Focus on May 27, the costs of improperly-calibrated pumps or pump-jumping — in which pumps register an amount before any fuel is dispensed — ranges from a few cents to several dollars per fill-up. That’s not the issue.
Squeezing the Shale: Lubbock economy more diverse due to oil industry
Lubbock has not become an oil town but the oil boom in West Texas and the region is having an impact.
Saving water, preserving land
Levels of a colorless solvent that the Environmental Protection Agency links to liver damage and possibly cancer recently spiked in a monitoring well of the Edwards Aquifer on San Antonio’s North Side.
Give teachers credit, respect for work they do
Over the decades, society expressed gratitude and the citizenry consistently asserted teachers weren’t paid enough. The civic bargain seemed to be that we received modest salaries with solid job security and a slender pension. Otherwise, why would most folks say, “You couldn’t pay me to do that” when you said you were a teacher?
Officials look to adult prison to help solve juvenile security problems
Down the long central hallway at one of Texas’ oldest prisons, through three sets of clanging steel-barred doors, convicts in white uniforms stand in sweaty lines waiting to go to their midday meal. Most have been convicted of violent crimes. Rape. Kidnapping. Sex assault. Murder. Most have been in criminal street gangs.
Texas AG relents on Death Row inmate DNA tests
At least we know this much: Given enough time, the Texas attorney general’s office can read handwriting on the wall. After getting an earful from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals during a May hearing, AG Greg Abbott’s office has done an abrupt about-face and ended its years of objection to DNA testing for Death Row inmate Hank Skinner.
Can they find their way to Austin?
The Texas Capitol runs on seniority and smarts. But next year, Tarrant County will send rookies. At least six newcomers will represent local voters in the Texas House thanks to new election maps and losses by two incumbents.
Commission rejects proposal to post officials’ fiscal records online
Citing fears that putting state officials’ financial details online would pose a security risk, a committee dominated by lawmakers on Tuesday vetoed a proposal to post the annual financial disclosure statements online.
Smaller companies to lawmakers: Margins tax creates unlevel playing field
A chorus of business interests mostly smaller companies told state lawmakers Tuesday that the state’s franchise tax treats some of their competitors differently, denying them the same deductions, taxing them at a higher rate or taxing revenue that is not theirs.
Seven Hispanic leaders endorse Marc Veasey over Domingo Garcia in congressional runoff
State Rep. Marc Veasey scored key endorsements Tuesday from seven Dallas-area Hispanic leaders that he hopes will bolster his efforts to win a new congressional seat in North Texas.
Openly gay candidate wins state House seat
Mary Gonzalez is setting a lot of records with her recent Democratic primary win for state House District 75. El Paso voters chose the 28-year-old UT doctoral student to represent them at the Capitol this session.