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

UT/Texas Tribune Poll: Perry Leads White by 9

Gov. Rick Perry leads his Democratic challenger, former Houston Mayor Bill White, 44 percent to 35 percent in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, which was conducted May 14 to 20. Fifteen percent of the 800 registered voters surveyed are undecided about which of the gubernatorial candidates to support, while 7 percent prefer "someone else." Perry leads among men, women and Anglos. White leads among African-Americans and Hispanics. In five other statewide races polled, each Republican leads his Democratic opponent by a double-digit margin.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of May 17, 2010

Thevenot on the ideological backbiting at the internationally famous State Board of Education; Stiles, Narioka and Hamilton plumb employee salary data in Texas colleges and universities; Grissom looks at the problem of insufficient indigent defense; Cervantes on the push for "veterans courts" emphasizing treatment and counseling over punishment; Aguilar finds border congressmen asking the governor for a fair break on federal homeland security dollars; M. Smith on another BP rig in the Gulf; Ramshaw reports on nurse practitioners trying to get permission slips from doctors; Hu follows up with lawmakers poking at whistleblower allegations of trouble in the state's workers' compensation regulation; Hamilton stops in on Luke Hayes and his efforts to turn Texas into a political powerhouse for Obama; and Ramsey writes on generation changes at the Capitol and on political pranksters: The best of our best from May 17 to 21, 2010.

Immature Tricks Can Be Useful in Campaigns

It's an impulse most of us learn to suppress in the seventh grade — the need give your enemies wedgies, to tape "kick me" signs to their backs, to put lizards in their lunchboxes. Political people don't suppress it — they channel it into goofy stunts to attract attention, ridicule opponents and blow off steam.

The Red Party

Texas Weekly

Don't look now, but the Texas GOP, the party of budgetary teetotalers, has been piling up debt like a college kid with his first credit card. According to Federal Election Commission reports, this isn't exactly a new development. The Republican Party of Texas has ended every year in the red since 2001. But lately that amount has ballooned from a low of about $70,000 in 2003 to last year's high of $624,000. Now — a month out from the state party convention where 14,000 delegates will elect the chairman who will guide the faithful for the next two years — the latest FEC report, for the month of April, shows $556,000 in financial obligations. In contrast, the Texas Democratic Party currently carries about $49,000 in debt.

Texas Congressmen Give to Each Other

It's not only rich people and lobbyists and interest group activists who make political contributions. Texas congressional candidates gave at least $1.3 million to other campaigns and causes over the last 15 months, according to itemized records of campaign expenditures released for the first time by the Federal Election Commission. Topping the list of big spenders in the Texas delegation were U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside, who contributed at least $240,000 — the highest dollar amount — and Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, who gave more than 60 contributions — the highest number. Search our database to see who gave what to whom.

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.