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Posts Tagged ‘budget’

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 […]

The state spending cap is a stupid idea

And the Republicans want to make it worse. Texas Senate leaders on Tuesday announced another round of efforts to change the way the state determines its two-year spending limit, and keep tax cuts from counting toward the constitutional cap on spending. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, at a […]

Bill filing deadline has passed

Believe it or not, we are almost halfway through the legislative session, and we have now passed the point where new bills can be filed. Racing to beat a deadline for filing bills, state lawmakers on Friday submitted hundreds of measures on everything from abolishing the death penalty to the licensing of auctioneers. By the […]

Voodoo economics

Also known as Dan Patrick’s budgetary contortions. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, joined by the Texas Senate’s lead budget writers, announced “a new bold proposal” Wednesday morning to allow lawmakers to cut property taxes and pay down the state’s debt without busting the state’s politically charged spending cap. “Gosh darn, we know our businesses and taxpayers […]

The pension deal

Not sure yet how I feel about this. Mayor Annise Parker and Houston’s firefighter pension trustees have reached a deal that would lower the city’s payments for three years, a move that would mark an abrupt reversal for the mayor. The announcement came late Thursday from the fire pension board, whose leaders for years have […]

Revenue cap will stay in place

Boo, hiss. Houston voters will not be given the option this fall of passing a property tax hike after a City Council committee on Thursday unanimously recommended leaving the city’s much-maligned revenue cap alone. […] The topic has received less attention recently, however, as projections show the cap will mean a projected $24 million less […]

More pre-K bills filed

The Observer has the best reporting on the latest pre-k bills that have been filed in the Lege. There’s widespread support around the Capitol for more state spending on pre-kindergarten programs, and much less agreement about how to do it. State Reps. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) have proposed a $300-million-a-year plan to […]

Judge Dietz would like the Lege to please fix school finance already

So would the rest of us, Your Honor. In his first major appearance since finding the Texas school finance system unconstitutional in 2014, state District Judge John Dietz said Sunday that a solution to the state’s unequal and ineffective public education system should come from the Legislature. “We are dooming a generation of these children […]

We can always pay for tax cuts later

Item One: Texas House leaders said Monday they can cut taxes by more than the $4 billion initially proposed by their Senate counterparts, upping the ante for the high-profile issue despite other looming big-ticket state needs. “We really believe that we ought to be able to do more than $4 billion in tax cuts here […]

HPD to get a pay raise

Mayor Parker and the police union agree to a new contract. The Houston Police Department hopes a new union contract that targets raises primarily to younger officers will ward off recruiting struggles that have forced it to offer bonuses to cadets. The agreement, which Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Police Officers Union president Ray Hunt […]

Tax cuts >>> public education

Well, what did you expect? Senate budget writers have enjoyed praise from conservatives for their focus on tax cuts, but they’re about to get an earful from educators who think their promises could cost Texas public school students. The starting budgets of the state House and Senate, released last month, are similar on many fronts, […]

The odds never favor ethics reforms

Better to keep your hopes down and not suffer too much disappointment. Gov. Greg Abbott pledged on the campaign trail to lead the charge to improve the state’s ethics laws, and now lawmakers and advocates pushing for reform are looking to the newly elected governor to help breathe life into proposals at the Legislature. Lawmakers […]