Vol 31, Issue 13 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott called for upping the quality of pre-K programs before funding a universal, all-day pre-K like what his Democratic rival, Wendy Davis, has advocated. The Davis campaign attacked Abbott for saying that expanding pre-K without keeping the program accountable would be a "waste."

Gov. Rick Perry is encouraging state transportation commissioners to tap Joe Weber, Texas A&M's vice president of student affairs, to be the next executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation. Transportation commissioners last month interviewed four candidates in executive session.

Two of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's top political aides left his campaign amid internal conflict about the direction of his re-election bid. The shake-up comes two months before Dewhurst, a 12-year incumbent who received 28 percent of the vote in March's Republican primary, will face challenger Dan Patrick in a May runoff.

The first shots in the November contest for comptroller have been fired with Democrat Mike Collier taking his Republican rival, Glenn Hegar, to task for advocating the replacement of the property tax with a consumption tax. Collier said the result would be a huge increase in sales tax.

Congress again failed to pass a permanent fix to a Medicare formula that perennially threatens to cut reimbursement rates to physician. Lawmakers passed another temporary, 12-month patch, but Texas' congressional delegation said afterward they are closer than ever to a lasting solution on this perennial issue.

Surpassing the 5 million mark, student enrollment in Texas public schools has hit a new record, according to the Texas Education Agency. And Hispanic enrollment continues to mark the majority.

Disclosure: At the time of publication, Texas A&M University was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. (You can also review the full list of Tribune donors and sponsors below $1,000.) 

Political People and their Moves

Deputy Comptroller Martin Hubert has been named to the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas advisory committee, which will oversee the distribution of $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to help implement the state's water plan.

State Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, has a new gig. The attorney and title company owner is now of counsel in the Real Estate and Energy practice groups of Jackson Walker LLP. A member of the Legislature since 2007, Darby chairs the Texas House energy caucus and he chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on natural resources, business and economic development and regulatory agencies.

David Craig Pearson hired on as the Railroad Commission's new seismologist. A former team leader at the Los Alamos National Laboratory's seismic field team, Pearson will investigate a recent spate of earthquakes in North Texas to determine if they are being caused by oil and gas extraction activity in the area. 

Richard Alpert of North Richland Hills, Jeffrey Barnard of Dallas, Vincent Di Maio of San Antonio, Harvey Kessler of Southlake, Ashraf Mozayani of Houston and Nizam Peerwani of Fort Worth have been appointed to the Forensic Science Commission by Gov. Rick Perry. Kessler and Mozayani's terms expire Sept. 1, 2014, while the rest received terms that expire Sept. 1, 2015.

Tom Rugg Sr. of Beaumont has been appointed as judge of the 58th Judicial District by Perry for a term to expire at the next general election.

Deaths: Elton "Ray" Hutchison, who was a GOP state representative from Dallas and chairman of the Republican Party of Texas before running for governor in 1978. He later carved out a specialty in government bond financing and was a close advisor to his wife, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who served in the U.S. Senate for 20 years. He was 81.

Beryl Milburn, who was a former vice chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas, the first president of the Austin Republican Women's Club and a founder of Texas Federation of Republican Women. She also ran for the Legislature in 1958. She was 93.