Ross Ramsey Executive Editor

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly for 15 years. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

Recent Contributions

Unhealthy

Texas Weekly

The insurance plan for state employees will have a $140.4 million shortfall next year — and that's the least of its problems. The projected shortfall for the two years after that is $880 million, and it will take another $476 million to replenish the program's legally required contingency fund. Keeping score? That's $1.5 billion.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of May 3, 2010

Aguilar and Miller on the immigration rally in Dallas; E. Smith interviews T. Boone Pickens and, in a two-on-one matchup, Jerry Patterson and Hector Uribe; Ramsey on how to make $2 billion disappear from the budget shortfall with creative accounting and on the $1.5 billion problem with health insurance for state employees; Kreighbaum on money bombs; Hamilton and Stiles on the remarkably similar policies for policing immigration in Texas and its largest city; Ramshaw on doctors ducking government health care programs; Kraft on the ups and downs of base closures; Grissom interviews Pulitzer-Pize wine David Oshinsky on the death penalty; M. Smith on the three Texans who want to run the state GOP; and Philpott on the lawsuits already in motion over the oil spill that's still underway in the Gulf of Mexico. The best of our best from May 3 to 7, 2010.

State Employee Insurance Faces Benefit Cuts

The insurance plan for state employees will have a $140.4 million shortfall next year — and that's the least of its problems. The projected shortfall for the two years after that is $880 million, and it will take another $476 million to replenish the legally required contingency fund. The Employee Retirement System and state leaders are surprisingly mellow about the red ink, saying growth in the cost of health benefits has actually stabilized at around 9 percent. But steady and large increases in costs threaten to erode the program, leaving policymakers to consider cuts in benefits, to negotiate lower prices or to find vast amounts of new money.

Bill White Works to Set His Own Reputation

Bill White, on the phone in Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England's office. Behind him, from left to right, are Rep. Kirk England, son of the mayor, Theresa Woodward, his chief of staff, and the mayor himself.
Bill White, on the phone in Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England's office. Behind him, from left to right, are Rep. Kirk England, son of the mayor, Theresa Woodward, his chief of staff, and the mayor himself.

Bill White, the Democratic nominee for governor, watched Rick Perry make mincemeat of Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP primary by painting a devastating picture of her before she could introduce herself to prospective voters. How to avoid the same fate? By travelling incessantly, trying to make himself known everywhere in Texas. By dismissing snippy press releases as interesting only to Austin insiders and pundits. By running bio ads on TV. In other words, by working the problem.

Magical Accounting

Texas Weekly

It's 1983. Oil prices are in the toilet. The Texas economy is suddenly and unexpectedly reeling. Lawmakers, who happen to be in session, have a choice between big cuts or new taxes or something creative. Comptroller Bob Bullock and his top propeller-heads find a creative out — a way to balance the budget without big cuts or tax hikes.

Special Senate Election in Waco

Gayle Avant
Gayle Avant

On May 8, voters in Senate District 22 will choose one of these candidates as Kip Averitt's successor: a veteran lawmaker-turned-lobbyist in a bad year for that kind of hyphenate, a 9/11 Pentagon survivor with residency questions dangling over his campaign, a Tea-steeped nullification fan and ... a Democrat.

What's in a Name?

Texas Weekly

Ask Gov. Rick Perry’s chief spokesman, Mark Miner, a question on any issue these days and the answer will invariably begin, “Liberal trial lawyer Bill White …”

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr 19, 2010

E. Smith interviews Gov. Rick Perry for the Trib and Newsweek, Philpott dissects the state's budget mess in a weeklong series, Hamilton looks at whether Bill White is or was a trial lawyer, M. Smith finds experts all over the state anxiously watching a court case over who owns the water under our feet, Aguilar reports on the battle between Fort Stockton and Clayton Williams Jr. over water in West Texas, Ramshaw finds a population too disabled to get on by itself but not disabled enough to get state help and Miller spends a day with a young man and his mother coping with that situation, Ramsey peeks in on software that lets the government know whether its e-mail messages are getting read and who's reading what, a highway commissioner reveals just how big a hole Texas has in its road budget, Grissom does the math on the state's border cameras and learns they cost Texans about $153,800 per arrest, and E. Smith interviews Karen Hughes on the difference between corporate and political P.R. — and whether there's such a thing as "Obama Derangement Syndrome." The best of our best from April 19 to April 23, 2010.

Agencies Can Tell Who's Reading Their Emails

What the user sees on the screen is a link to the "Consumer Confidence Index" for March. But clicking on that link actually goes through a tracking system that can be used to identify the email address where this notice was originally sent.
What the user sees on the screen is a link to the "Consumer Confidence Index" for March. But clicking on that link actually goes through a tracking system that can be used to identify the email address where this notice was originally sent.

Sign up for state agency e-mail alerts from, say, the Comptroller or TCEQ and they'll let you know when meetings are being held and when proposed rules are ready for review. But click a link in those e-mails and they have the ability to see who looked at which rule and which web page and who didn't look at all.

FCC's McDowell: What Consumers Want

Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell visited Austin to talk with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and agreed to an interview on net neutrality — whether people who use more internet bandwidth should pay more for the service, like they do now for greater speed — the recent court decision preventing FCC restrictions on "information service" providers like Comcast, and other issues before his agency and the industries it regulates (and unregulated companies that compete with regulated ones).

FCC's McDowell: What Congress Might Do

Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell visited Austin to talk with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and agreed to an interview on net neutrality — whether people who use more internet bandwidth should pay more for the service, like they do now for greater speed — the recent court decision preventing FCC restrictions on "information service" providers like Comcast, and other issues before his agency and the industries it regulates (and unregulated companies that compete with regulated ones).

FCC's McDowell: Better for Grandma

Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell visited Austin to talk with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and agreed to an interview on net neutrality — whether people who use more internet bandwidth should pay more for the service, like they do now for greater speed — the recent court decision preventing FCC restrictions on "information service" providers like Comcast, and other issues before his agency and the industries it regulates (and unregulated companies that compete with regulated ones).