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Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Vetoes: You’re doing it wrong

Oops. Some of Gov. Greg Abbott’s line-item vetoes in the state budget might be invalid, the state’s Legislative Budget Board said in a 14-page letter sent Tuesday to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. The director of the LBB said the governor’s veto proclamation, listing line items he chose to excise from the new budget, doesn’t have […]

Parker wants a vote on lifting the revenue cap

So do I. Mayor Annise Parker plans to press City Council this month to reconsider loosening a decade-old revenue cap for public safety spending as talk of a looming budget deficit and possible service cuts grows more ominous around the dais. The cap limits the growth in city revenues to the combined rates of inflation […]

Circling back to city finances

I have three things to say about this. This time, [City Finance Director Kelly] Dowe insists, the $126 million deficit he projects for the budget year that starts next summer is not going to disappear, as past projected shortfalls have. There are no more payments to defer, he says, no more valuable city-owned land to […]

Supreme Court to hear school finance appeal in September

Mark your calendars. The Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Sept. 1 in the long-running case challenging the state’s school-finance system. “We are very pleased that the court is moving so expeditiously,” attorney David Thompson, representing the Houston Independent School District, Fort Bend ISD and dozens of others, said Friday. “We think it’s a […]

Sales tax revenues take a dip

Don’t freak out just yet, but do be a little worried. Houston’s 53-month consecutive span of year-over-year sales tax revenue gains has come to an end, five months into an energy slump analysts said could dent the city’s economic numbers for the rest of the year. The city’s $50.1 million sales tax revenues for April, […]

ReVote Houston?

Mayoral candidate Bill King calls for a do-over on Renew/ReBuild Houston. Houston mayoral candidate Bill King wants to put ReBuild Houston, the city’s controversial streetand drainage program, back up for a vote. […] King, the most vocal opponent of ReBuild Houston in the race, has seized the moment to attack ReBuild. “I only see one […]

New litigation against ReBuild Houston

To be expected at this point. A class action lawsuit has been filed against the city, seeking to reimburse residents who pay the drainage fee that helps fund ReBuild Houston, the multibillion-dollar streets and drainage improvement program that voters narrowly approved in 2010. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Texas Supreme Court ruling […]

There are too many questions that need to be answered before we can talk about expanding HPD

Chief McClelland is going to have to start answering them if he wants support for increasing HPD’s budget. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland last year asked City Council for $105 million over five years to hire hundreds of new officers, a request that came on the heels of a report that showed his department leaves […]

Supreme Court deals a blow to ReBuild Houston

Ugh. Houston’s divisive, multibillion-dollar effort to fund two decades of street and drainage improvements faces an uncertain future after the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the ballot measure voters narrowly approved in 2010 obscured the nature and cost of the drainage fee at the heart of the ReBuild Houston program. The case now returns […]

Mayoral candidate forum season is underway

They talk about the arts. Houston’s mayoral candidates were full of praise for the city’s arts scene Wednesday, when they appeared at a forum together for the first time, though most said they would not support raising taxes or allocating new city funds to support arts and culture. The forum hosted by four city arts […]

Tighter spending cap defeated

I consider this to be a victory. The state’s constitutional spending cap will remain untouched this session, and House and Senate leaders are blaming each other for the lack of action on the arcane but politically important measure. Senate Republicans had sought to tighten the rules that guide how much future state budgets can grow, […]

Budget deal

What Christopher Hooks says. Texans, you can put down your pitchforks and douse your torches: The edibles you’ve squirreled away in your emergency bunkers can be safely consumed. Life can begin anew. The tax cut war between House and Senate has been resolved, which means that barring a catastrophic screw-up—say, Comptroller Glenn Hegar realizing he […]

Anti-high speed rail budget rider removed

Good. A proposed bullet train between Dallas and Houston has survived a budgeting measure that could’ve derailed the push in Texas to have the nation’s first high-speed rail line. Budget writers on Thursday removed a Senate-inserted rider in the spending plan that said the Texas Department of Transportation couldn’t spend any state money on “subsidizing […]

Bullet train budget rider battle continues

The budget rider to derail the high speed train is still under contention as the conference committee completes its work. Tucked in Page 682 of the budget passed by the Senate in April is Rider 48, a provision that would bar the Texas Department of Transportation from spending any state funds toward “subsidizing or assisting […]

Where the education reform bills stand

As we know, the attempt to take a first stab at school finance reform did not make it to the House floor. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some action on school-related issues. This Chron story from the weekend recapped a couple of the major bills that did make it through. Lawmakers likely could have killed […]

One more shot at killing the high speed rail line

Never forget that the tricksiest maneuvers in the legislative handbook come in the budget. Texas’ prospects of having the first high-speed train line in the nation hinge on two sentences in a proposed state budget that lawmakers in the House and Senate must hash out before the end of the month. The Senate’s budget would […]

Mayor Parker’s last budget

Here it is. Despite sounding the alarm for months that a multimillion dollar deficit could force service cuts, new fees and employee layoffs, Mayor Annise Parker rolled out a $5.1 billion city budget on Tuesday that largely preserves spending levels by drawing on one-time funding sources and higher-than-expected revenues to plug the gap. Parker warned […]

Who you calling lame duck?

“Not me”, says Mayor Parker. City Council has voted down or delayed several items put forward by Mayor Annise Parker in recent weeks, events that some City Hall observers interpret as a sign of the term-limited mayor being afflicted with lame-duck syndrome as the race to succeed her heats up. Parker and her allies dismiss […]

House passes sales tax cut

Over to you, Danno. The Texas House tentatively approved a $4.9 billion tax relief plan Tuesday that includes a cut to the state’s sales tax, marking a clear line in the sand against the Senate, which favors property tax cuts. The House voted 141-0 for House Bill 31 by Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen, […]

B-Cycle’s future

There’s some trouble in San Antonio. San Antonio B-Cycle could be on the verge of following rideshare and disappearing from the San Antonio landscape, multiple sources have told the Rivard Report, unless it can win the local government, corporate and philanthropic financial support that bikeshare enjoys in cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, and Austin. […]

Senate passes a voucher bill

Hopefully, this will die in the House. Some low-income families unhappy with their public schools would get help paying private school tuition under a plan that won tentative approval in the Texas Senate Monday. Senate Bill 4, which would use state tax credits to entice up to $100 million in business donations to fund a […]

No, seriously, expand Medicaid or else

Bring. It. On. The federal government is officially holding state leaders’ feet to the fire, hoping to get Texas to expand its Medicaid program to provide health insurance to more low-income Texans. Federal officials called the state’s health agency this week to say that Texas’ reluctance to expand Medicaid — a key tenet of President […]

Mostly positive reviews for the Aycock school finance plan

So far, so good. A plan from a top House lawmaker to overhaul the state’s public education funding system received largely favorable reviews from school districts during a marathon legislative hearing that ended late Tuesday night. “While this bill, some consider it not to be perfect, for us fortunately it is a significant step in […]

Here comes the school finance bill

It’s a big deal. The House education chairman on Tuesday unveiled a $3 billion proposal he hopes will overhaul the way Texas funds public schools and derail a looming lawsuit in the process. “My objective when I began this was to simplify the situation that we’re in,” Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said before providing […]

Decriminalizing truancy

This is important. Senate Bill 106, filed by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, would make major overhauls to current truancy law, including referring students to a civil court that hears truancy cases rather than a criminal court. Under current law, children as young as 12 who miss 10 or more days or parts of days in […]

Budget passes House as most amendments get pulled

It was a long day in the House on Tuesday and Wednesday but not a terribly bloody one as many of the budget amendments and riders that had been queued up got withdrawn. A brief recap of the action: Border “security”: House Democrats tried — and mostly failed — to divert funds allotted for border […]

Let the budgetary games begin

The House takes up the budget today, with over 300 amendments and riders queued up for votes. A couple of things to watch for as the debate goes on: Killing vouchers. Lawmakers in the Texas House will have a chance to draw a line in the sand over private school vouchers during the upcoming battle […]

State-run Women’s Health Program continues to be a failure

Quelle surprise. Thousands fewer women are getting health services through the now state-run Women’s Health Program after Planned Parenthood was barred from being a provider. A report released Monday by the state Health and Human Services Commission showed that almost 30,000 fewer women were served through the program in 2013 than in 2011, and 63,581 […]

Rural hospitals

If this story was meant to evoke my sympathy, I’m afraid it failed. Since the hospital closed in Paducah, a town 30 miles to the north, patients in Guthrie have 60 long miles to travel to Childress for care. It’s a feeling of isolation that has crept up on other rural corners of the state […]

House will address school finance

Good. With a plan that would add $3 billion to the state’s public education budget, the Texas House has decided to take on school finance reform this legislative session. As he announced a deal Wednesday that would put $800 million on top of the $2.2 billion the chamber had already allocated to public schools, Public […]

The Memphis pension cutting experience

In discussions about Houston’s pension liabilities, the city of Detroit is often trotted out as an analogy and cautionary tale. There’s another city that may be a more accurate comparison, and it’s offering an illustration right now of what might happen if things proceed as many candidates for local office and the Houston Chronicle would […]

Compromise bill to reform property tax appraisals

Better than nothing, I guess, but not clear to me yet how much better. State lawmakers are looking to partly close a tax loophole that has allowed big companies to drain tens of millions of dollars from local government coffers in recent years, but any reforms that pass may still not end the legal battles […]

Driverless car legislative update

Like just about everything else under the sun, there were bills filed last week to deal with driverless cars. As self-driving cars move from futuristic concept to plausible technology, the Texas Legislature is looking to become a magnet for the fast-developing industry. Three lawmakers have filed bills aimed at encouraging the use of the technology […]

The cost of unplanned pregnancies

From Wonkblog: Unintended pregnancies cost American taxpayers $21 billion each year, according to a new analysis released by the Guttmacher Institute. That averages out to a cost of about $366 per every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. Overall, more than half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and roughly 1-in-20 American women of reproductive […]