Judge: Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional

District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin is shown in his courtroom on Feb. 4, 2013, before he ruled that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.
District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin is shown in his courtroom on Feb. 4, 2013, before he ruled that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.

Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state's school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor. 

Critics Charge Local Bond Elections Lack Transparency

Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.
Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.

Texas voters approve billions of dollars in new local debt each year. A growing group of critics argues that voters wouldn't be so agreeable if they were more clearly informed of the debt that's already owed in their name.

In Trial Lawyer, Perry Finds a Tenacious Advocate

Gov. Perry and his lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, walk to Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center for his booking on Aug. 19, 2014.
Gov. Perry and his lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, walk to Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center for his booking on Aug. 19, 2014.

Tony Buzbee, who is leading Gov. Rick Perry's defense, has made a fortune being the kind of lawyer the governor has spent much of his time in office villainizing. But Buzbee rejects the suggestion that he was an unconventional pick.

Davis Draws Praise, Criticism for Education Plans

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, speaks to crowd during a campaign stop at East Austin restaurant Juan in a Million on May 6th, 2014
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, speaks to crowd during a campaign stop at East Austin restaurant Juan in a Million on May 6th, 2014

While receiving praise from education leaders in Austin and fending off fresh criticism about her tax return, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis promoted the latest additions to her education reform proposals.

Local Debt Climbs as Texas Cities Deal With Growth

Between cities, school districts and counties, more than half of all Texans live in areas where the bill for taxpayer-supported debt, including expected interest, totals more than $1 billion, according to state data analyzed by The Texas Tribune.
Between cities, school districts and counties, more than half of all Texans live in areas where the bill for taxpayer-supported debt, including expected interest, totals more than $1 billion, according to state data analyzed by The Texas Tribune.

Texas cities, counties and school districts are relying more on debt to maintain services in a fast-growing state. While critics argue communities need to work harder to live within their means, local officials say the issue is not that simple.

Guard's Arrival on Border Brings Reassurance, Concerns

Texas Department of Public Safety officers patrol Anzalduas Park as part of Operation Strong Safety. Texas National Guard soldiers deployed to the area on Monday will help DPS in its mission, officials said.
Texas Department of Public Safety officers patrol Anzalduas Park as part of Operation Strong Safety. Texas National Guard soldiers deployed to the area on Monday will help DPS in its mission, officials said.

The arrival of the Texas National Guard to the border has been met with praise by some who say the state is taking the lead in securing the border. Others say the deployment is overkill that only serves to hamper the local economy.

Analysis: Despite Calendar, Campaigns Take a Back Seat

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after her April 2013 drunken driving arrest, and Gov. Rick Perry vetoed funding for the public integrity unit, which is housed in the Travis County DA's office.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after her April 2013 drunken driving arrest, and Gov. Rick Perry vetoed funding for the public integrity unit, which is housed in the Travis County DA's office.

This is the time of a political year when voters start — slowly — to pay attention to the candidates, issues and arguments ahead of a general election. But this year, there is something else to watch instead. 

Education Commissioner: "The System Needs to Catch Up"

Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.

UPDATED: Asked why the state had delayed a transition away from lower passing standards on state exams, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams told state lawmakers Tuesday that classroom instruction had failed to meet the rigor demanded by the new tests. 

Davis Releases Full Tax Return

State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, addressed supporters on Saturday, July 13, 2014, in East Austin as she concluded her "Texans Deserve to Know" tour.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, addressed supporters on Saturday, July 13, 2014, in East Austin as she concluded her "Texans Deserve to Know" tour.

On Tuesday, as the Tribune was preparing to write a story about Wendy Davis' limited release of her 2013 tax return, her campaign agreed to its full publication. You can find it here