TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 2/21/11

By more than 2 to 1, Texas voters believe lawmakers should solve the state's shortfall by cutting the budget, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, but they're divided on specific cuts. Most voters haven't decided, but if they voted today, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst would lead the field for the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the poll found. A majority say they're ready for full-blown casino gambling. And Texans are willing to end automatic citizenship for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

The power failures earlier this month have called into question one of Texas' most basic tenets: that we do everything, including deregulation, better than anyone else.

Charter schools want access to the state's Permanent School Fund, which guarantees bond issues for traditional public schools, allowing them to secure advantageous interest rates. Not everyone is on board — including the traditional public schools.

Hundreds of Texans descended on the state Capitol to draw attention to dozens of bills they say would hinder economic development, stymie education and — above all — encourage racial profiling in the Lone Star State.

Garnet Coleman, the Democratic state representative from Houston, on his Republican colleagues' quest for a federal Medicaid waiver, the problem with block grants and what realistically the feds could do to help Texas and other states.

The House and Senate budgets propose a $95.6 million cut in total revenue from the Texas Youth Commission budget in 2012-2013, and lawmakers are eying reductions in parole services, which could lead to fewer staffers and fewer district parole offices.

At TribLive, three first-term members of the Texas House — Stefani Carter, R-Dallas; Cindy Burkett, R-Mesquite; and Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie — came to talk about their first weeks in office.

House lawmakers had their first chance to weigh in on the controversial abortion sonogram bill — and they didn't mince words. Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, compared the number of fetuses that have been aborted since Roe v. Wade to a "Holocaust times nine.”

Proposed reductions in community-based mental health treatment, experts say, will mean more mentally ill Texans are likely to end up on the streets, in emergency rooms and behind bars, where it will cost local taxpayers even more to care for them.

We’ve pushed the first update of the New Year to our government salary database, which now includes data on more than 650,000 employees from more than 100 entities. This update refreshes the salaries of more than 20 public agencies and adds 13 new entities.

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