The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan. 29, 2013

The Big Conversation

A major new federal immigration proposal has corralled bipartisan support, but Texas Republicans aren't biting.

The proposal — unveiled Monday by a group of four Republican and four Democratic U.S. senators — includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and increased border security. The unveiling came a day before President Barack Obama is expected to lay out a plan of his own that is said to be moderately more liberal than the senators' proposal.

But in Texas, the senators' proposal isn't winning much GOP support. Both of the state's U.S. senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, expressed reservations about the plan.

"There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration," Cruz said in a statement. "However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally."

A spokeswoman for Cornyn told the The Dallas Morning News, "There are many facets to immigration reform, but one that must be addressed first and foremost is our porous border."

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a San Antonio Republican and member of the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee, called the plan "amnesty," adding, "When you legalize those who are in the country illegally, it costs taxpayers millions of dollars, costs American workers thousands of jobs and encourages more illegal immigration."

The opposition from Texas Republicans may mirror the pushback the plan receives from Republicans in Washington, especially in the GOP-controlled House, whose speaker, John Boehner, on Monday offered a tepid response to the proposal.

Capitol Notes
Compiled from Tribune reports

•    Governor Readies State of the State Address No. 7: "Gov. Rick Perry has given six State of the State addresses, outlining his vision for the state and his strategies for each legislative session. Before lunch Tuesday, he’ll deliver the seventh, telling the 83rd Legislature — and the rest of us — what’s on his mind and what he hopes to accomplish along with state lawmakers before the end of the regular session on Memorial Day. A source familiar with the speech said Perry would advocate spending "several billion from the Rainy Day Fund for a one-time investment in water and infrastructure projects." That mirrors legislative proposals for a $2 billion starter fund for water and unspecified amounts for transportation. The governor will continue to argue that the fund should not be tapped for continuing expenses. But with it projected to hit nearly $12 billion by the end of the next two-year budget, the source said Perry would also make the case that the fund should not be "allowed to accumulate more than necessary."

•    Senators Hold Hearing on Guns in Schools: "Educators, police officers and state officials weighed in Monday during a Senate hearing on proposals to arm teachers. … Three superintendents from rural school districts that have embraced concealed handgun policies for their employees since the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., emphasized their support for increased security, but also said that what worked in their district might not work in others."

•    Bill Would Require Annual UT vs. A&M Football Game: "State Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, has filed a bill that would require the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to face each other on the football field every year."

Culled
Texas news from across the state and around the web

•    State Audit Exposes More Problems at Cancer Institute (The Texas Tribune): "A state audit has revealed that transparency problems at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas extend beyond the improper review of an $11 million commercialization grant that sparked criminal and civil investigations."

•    Colleges lobby Lege for more funding (San Antonio Express-News): "San Antonio's public university presidents joined other state higher education leaders Monday to ask lawmakers for more funding. … 'Our No. 1 request would be restoration, if possible, of the formula funding,' Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told the Senate Finance Committee in Austin, referring to the basic state outlay for higher education, which takes tuition, enrollment and other factors into account."

•    Senator proposes moving toughest juvenile offenders to adult prisons (Austin American-Statesman): "In a move that would change decades of state policy, the chairman of the Senate’s criminal justice committee suggested Monday that 17- and 18-year-olds who commit violent crimes should do their time in a new system of youth prisons rather than in Texas’ juvenile lockups."

Quote of the Day: "I believe in the importance of cutting spending wherever possible and keeping taxes low. But we also have to recognize that a healthy business climate needs more than low taxes." — House Speaker Joe Straus to the Texas Association of Broadcasters on Monday

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