Despite Surplus, House and Senate Offer Lean Budgets
Upending recent tradition, the Texas Senate is starting off with the leaner budget this session, one that’s about $1 billion smaller than the House budget but spends nearly the same amount in general revenue, the portion of the budget that lawmakers have the most control over. General revenue typically makes up around half of the total budget, with much of the remainder coming from federal funding.
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Lawmakers to Again Take Aim at Predatory Lending
Legislators this year will once again try to combat some short-term lending practices that critics say prey on poor Texans.
Budget Plans Question Value of Incentives and Testing
In budget proposals that the House and Senate released this week, legislative leaders signaled their priorities as much by what they funded as by what they didn’t. Neither budget offers new funding for controversial economic incentive programs run out of the governor’s office or for embattled STAAR testing.
State budget like Texas weather: It’ll change
“Of the thousands of bills you will consider, the one that really matters is the general appropriations bill,” William P. Hobby Jr. advised this year’s crop of freshmen. “The bill decides how well Texas will be educated, regulated, imprisoned and medicated for the next two years. All the rest is just poetry.”
Bare-bones Texas budget proposals need a lot of work
True to their word, Gov. Rick Perry and legislative leaders are going to make state agencies — and fellow lawmakers — work hard for anything beyond a bare-bones approach to spending in the 2014-15 state budget.
GOP leaders’ plans may force Rick Perry to defend Texas business incentives
GOP legislative leaders have proposed to give no new money for economic development incentives over the next two years, which may force Gov. Rick Perry into a major sales effort as he tries to rekindle lawmakers’ enthusiasm — or tolerance — for some of his pet programs.
State’s public schools need improving now, TAB leader testifies in finance trial
The president of the state’s leading business association testified that Texas businesses will suffer — and some may leave the state — unless there is a concerted effort to improve public schools and ensure that graduates are either career- or college-ready.
With Trial Pending, What Will Texas Legislators Do?
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, member of the House Public Education Committee last session, said it is unlikely there would be any substantive legislative action before the Supreme Court issues a decision on the education finance trial.
Nelson bill would crack down on Medicaid fraud
Sen. Jane Nelson introduced legislation on Wednesday that would crack down on Medicaid fraud, which she described as an epidemic that has cost Texas taxpayers $6 billion.
Texas budget writers propose no funding for new cancer research grants
GOP legislative leaders proposed a state budget Monday that would fund no more cancer grants until the agency that awards them is overhauled so it can regain public confidence.
Tarrant lawmakers urged to take a look at raising the gasoline tax
The state’s road network faces continued deterioration unless Texas expands its transportation investment to keep pace with a rapidly growing population
Campus-carry up for debate as new gun bill filed
The issue of allowing concealed handgun permit holders to carry weapons at colleges and universities was reignited when state Sen. Brian Birdwell filed a bill similar to one that narrowly missed becoming law in 2011.
In Capitol Community, a Push to Beat the Toil of the Session
Lawmakers and workers in state government are staying healthy to avoid the burnout from seven-day-a-week, 20-hour-a-day work schedules.
Texas needs a statewide ban on smoking
There are 29 states across the country with statewide smoking bans. It’s time for Texas to join their ranks. Failure to move forward will only further harm Texans’ health and continue to rack up millions of dollars in health care costs.
Bill Targets Companies That Misclassify Workers
Construction workers who intentionally misclassify their employees as independent contractors would be subject to hefty fines under proposed legislation authored by a veteran Democratic lawmaker.
Details spelled out for Travis letter
The famed “victory or death” letter written by William Barret Travis will be read aloud by a descendant when it returns to the Alamo next month for the first time since 1836, state officials announced Wednesday.
Perry Promises To Embrace Tea Party Values
Gov. Rick Perry promised Tuesday to further embrace tea party values, beat back government spending at every turn and fiercely oppose abortion — while also keeping an eye on rising political stars like George P. Bush.
Short on Electricity
An organization called the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which has federal authority to enforce the reliability of the national electrical grid, put Texas on notice last week that it is worried about whether the state will have enough power by this summer — and whether Texas officials are doing enough to fix the problem.
Lawmakers taking hard look at Perry’s pets
Greg Abbott raises big money, enough to run for governor
Campaign reports released Tuesday show Attorney General Greg Abbott has amassed $18 million in campaign funds, fueling speculation that he is weighing a potential race for governor.
George P. Bush already raises more than $1M for political bid
The grandson of one former president and nephew of another, Bush raked in $1,350,489 in the 39 business days between Nov. 7 and Dec. 31, said his campaign manager, Trey Newton.
House adopts rules
It took 6 hours, a debate about whether God wants lawmakers to have clock-stopping ability and discussion of 33 amendments, but the House did finally finalize their rules of procedure.
Straus emerges from Legislature’s first week stronger than ever
“The speaker is exceptional in working with members,” said Rep. Todd Hunter, an ally of the speaker. “What you’ve seen within the last week is he has a strong, diverse support base.”
Most State Lawmakers Won’t Disclose Tax Returns
When a Texas Tribune reporter asked state Rep. Joe Pickett to voluntarily provide his last three tax returns as part of a legislative transparency project, the El Paso Democrat was frank. “It’s hard enough being an elected official these days,” he said. “I think that’s way too much invasion of privacy.