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Posts Tagged ‘budget’

We have a messed up tax system in this state, part deux

Sooner or later, it’s going to collapse under its own weight. The state’s highest civil court last week agreed to hear a case hinging on whether metal pipes, tubing and other equipment used in oil and gas production should be exempt from sales taxes. While the issue is arcane, the impact to the state could […]

Things are tough all over

HISD faces a big deficit: Houston ISD leaders are bracing for a projected $107 million budget shortfall that, in a worst-case scenario, could prompt the district to slash jobs. During the school board meeting Thursday, however, officials pledged to try keep cuts away from schools. “We get it,” Ken Huewitt, the district’s deputy superintendent and […]

Republicans sure are hoping to get a bailout on school finance

Am I the only one who thinks that a lot of this sounds like wishful thinking? The Texas Supreme Court may punt in a far-reaching school finance case, asking a lower court to assess the Legislature’s latest efforts on public schools. If it does, a new law may reduce the influence of trial judges elected […]

AG’s office upholds Abbott’s line item vetos

Of course it does. Gov. Greg Abbott was well within his powers when he vetoed more than $200 million in funds approved by the Texas Legislature this year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office wrote in an opinion issued Monday. […] The nonbinding opinion, written by First Assistant Attorney General Chip Roy, has the potential […]

Two school finance stories

Tough times in the oil patch mean tough times for school districts in the oil patch. The U.S. shale boom flooded the state’s public schools with a gusher of cash, but that windfall is disappearing nearly as fast as it arrived, making some newly wealthy districts nervous about their financial outlook amid a crude slump […]

Looking back and looking ahead for Mayor-elect Turner

Here’s a Q&A with our new Mayor that looks back on the campaign that just wrapped up. Q: Economically, electorally, this is a divided city. You campaigned on a platform of bringing people together. How do you overcome that split now that you’ve been elected mayor? A: When I woke up this morning, the campaign […]

We have a messed up tax system in this state

The latest exhibit: The volatile oil and gas industry already has prompted Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar to reduce his state revenue estimate, but that may not be the last of the bad budget news. A court decision potentially could cost Texas around $1.1 billion a year in franchise tax revenue, plus require four years’ worth […]

School finance ruling expected soon

Hold onto your hats. For decades, the state’s 1,000-plus school districts vied against one another for a bigger piece of the financial pie. Now two-thirds of state districts have joined forces to say the system is unfair because it doesn’t provide adequate funding for all. The state’s high court is expected to rule any day […]

Feds warn Texas about Planned Parenthood

We’ll see what happens. The Obama administration has warned state officials that pushing Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program could put Texas at odds with federal law. Officials with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contacted the state Medicaid director on Tuesday to give notice that removing Planned Parenthood from the […]

Ground broken on the joint processing center

Good. The majority of suspects arrested by Houston police get booked at one of two city jails, and within 48 hours they are transferred and booked in all over again at the Harris County Jail. Two years from now, officials say, this duplication will be a thing of the past. The central and southeast police […]

The Prop 7 funds are already being claimed

Get ready for a lot more road construction in the near future. Voters have a little more than a week to decide whether to give Texas highways a $2.75 billion annual funding boost, but Houston-area officials are already making plans to spend the money. In the event Proposition 7 passes – the proposal has silent, […]

The economy takes its toll on state revenue

Nothin’ but good times ahead, though, right? Transportation funding could take a hit under new revenue projections by State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who on Tuesday lowered his forecast of state tax collections by $4.6 billion in the face of a volatile oil and gas industry. Hegar’s new forecast still leaves more than enough money to […]

Metro once again considers advertising

And I once again say go for it. Thursday, Metropolitan Transit Authority board members will consider researching options for putting ads inside buses and trains, as well as text-based ads for those who use the system’s next-bus texting service. Metro board member Diann Lewter said the discussion is preliminary, but she and others want to […]

Finally, some coverage on the pension issue

I kid, I kid. Like it or not, HERO or not, it’s what this race has been about. The top candidates for Houston mayor are talking far more about the city’s growing cost of retiree benefits than voters are, which is, in some ways, a testament to the profound challenge presented by the city’s pension […]

Harris Health wants more people to enroll in Obamacare

Who can blame them? Harris County’s public health care agency, responding to a budget crisis, will eliminate more than 19,000 people next year from eligibility for free or nearly free services, hoping most of these patients will obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The board of the agency, Harris Health, voted Thursday to reduce […]

Council approves inmate processing center deal with Harris County

Very good news. An end is in sight for the inefficient process of shuttling prisoners in and out of redundant local lockups after the City Council on Wednesday approved an agreement with Harris County to build a long-discussed inmate processing center. Public officials have discussed the need for a new booking center since the 1990s, […]

When might we get a Supreme Court ruling on school finance?

When they’re damn good and ready is the usual answer for Supreme Court rulings, but in the case of school finance lawsuits they usually act with some measure of speed. Given past rulings and politics — three justices on the nine-member, all-Republican court are up for re-election next year — the consensus among experts and […]

Yet another report on pensions

Yippie. Some city leaders have spent years standing in the town square, hollering themselves hoarse that Houston’s financial footing is unstable, that huge pension costs threaten the city’s future ability to police the streets, pick up trash and maintain parks. In recent weeks, they’ve been joined by two others with bullhorns: The Greater Houston Partnership […]

On cellphones and school zones

I guess I need to talk about this. Six years ago, state lawmakers hoping to protect students banned drivers from texting and talking on hand-held cellphones in school zones. The ban, however, has never been enforced in Houston. City and school district officials have opted not to install the warning signs needed to issue tickets, […]

Once again to the Supreme Court for school finance

Like deja vu all over again, and again and again and… The Texas Supreme Court is again faced with determining whether the state’s method of funding public schools is unconstitutional, the latest in a series of school finance challenges stretching back more than 30 years. In oral arguments Tuesday, lawyers representing the state argued that […]

Supreme Court to hear school finance appeal

We near the end of the road. This road, anyway. Shut out by lawmakers in their efforts to overhaul the state’s troubled education funding system, more than 600 school districts are now pinning their hopes for relief on the Texas Supreme Court. The high court will hear arguments on the volatile issue of school finance […]

Hegar punts LBB veto issue to Paxton

Duck! Describing the debate as one that “goes to the heart of separation of powers within Texas government,” Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Wednesday that he will not authorize more than $200 million in funds approved by the Texas Legislature but vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott as the comptroller waits for the attorney general to settle […]

Turner’s police plan

Time to look at a major policy proposal, from Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner. Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner unveiled a plan Thursday to expand the Houston Police Department by 540 officers by 2020, an effort he said is needed to help police better engage the communities they serve and to improve trust between some neighborhoods and […]

Still reviewing the video on the line item vetoes

Any day now. With varying degrees of concern, a smattering of government offices and higher education institutions around the state are waiting to learn the fate of more than $200 million in funds that the governor might — or might not — have excised from the state budget. The Legislative Budget Board is challenging several […]

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 […]