TribWire

Senator: Shame on budget writers if pensions, roads aren’t funded

Senate budget writers must fix public employee pension funds and cough up more money for roads or hang their heads in shame, a maverick Republican senator said Thursday. Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, said a Senate panel’s nearly completed version of a two-year state budget would leave between $15 billion and $20 billion of state money unspent.

Patrick defends private school tax credits and vouchers

The Republican addressed Senate Education Committee members after they’d listened to several hours of arguments for and against three school choice bills pending before the committee. Public school groups and advocates blasted the measures for potentially taking millions of dollars away from public schools.

State house member’s road financing plan steers away from tolls

The Texas House’s top transportation official wants voters to dedicate a portion of state sales taxes to fund more nontolled road construction, a move that could send the Texas Department of Transportation more than $3 billion in additional money each year. Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, laid out his plan Thursday to help unclog traffic on state highways while weaning Texas from its financial dependence on toll roads.

Castro twins' mom impressive in her own right

Rosie Castro is known as a political and civil rights activist, an educator, a mentor and community servant. Recently she also became San Antonio’s new peace laureate. But the native San Antonian, whose reserved demeanor belies a formidable presence, may be best known as the mother of famous twins — Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro representing Texas’ 20th District and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, plucked by President Barack Obama to serve as U.S. housing secretary.

Chasnoff: Van de Putte 'danced’ around lawsuit question

Mayoral candidate Leticia Van de Putte this week scored the coveted endorsement of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, in part by assuring union leaders that she opposes a lawsuit filed by the city against the police and fire unions. Yet, about a month ago, at an exclusive “civic breakfast” held every Wednesday morning at The Barn Door, Van de Putte told a back room filled with the city’s business leaders just the opposite: that she supports the lawsuit, according to two people present, Buddy Morris and Michael Beldon.

Rules for viewing police videos depend on who is holding the camera

One would make the public back up when shooting video of officers working crime scenes or making arrests. The other would establish state standards for equipping police with so-called body cameras that would record actions from the officer's point of view. Neither would do much for transparency, critics contend.

The crowd rules in new Texas funding format

NextSeed, based in Houston, is one of five crowdfunding platforms registered in Texas since the state passed intrastate crowdfunding rules allowing small investors without substantial assets to buy equity or debt in private startups or small businesses. Only Texas businesses and Texas residents can participate, and the rules are attracting companies like NextSeed that might have launched elsewhere.

Jury sides with TSU in equal pay case

Texas Southern University did not discriminate against a female assistant dean who said she deserved to make as much money as male colleagues with the same title, a jury determined Thursday afternoon. Michele G. Taylor accused the university of pay discrimination based on gender in violation of the Equal Pay Act. Twelve jurors disagreed.

In HERO case, 8,500 signatures will decide trial

The first publicly disclosed tally since the heated trial surrounding the city's equal rights ordinance wrapped up last month leaves opponents of the law about 3,000 valid petition signatures shy of triggering a repeal referendum, though 8,500 more signatures are still in question and will decide the case.

Senate panel debates school vouchers

School vouchers are a top priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this session, but a lengthy hearing Thursday on two bills to allow parents to use state money to send their kids to private or religious schools points to a rocky path ahead for the divisive proposal.

$104 million in studies gets Metro little

Houston transit officials Thursday wrote off $104 million wasted on multiple studies related to the controversial University and Uptown light rail projects that ultimately stalled due to a lack of funding and fierce opposition from the neighborhoods they would impact.

State and local costs could be downfall of anti-gay marriage bill

A bill that would prevent county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, regardless of if the state’s gay marriage ban is one day struck down, drew criticism Wednesday from marriage equality advocates. But the measure’s downfall may be the price tag rather than an issue of civil rights.

Texas Senate education panel debates voucher bills

In a glimpse of the voucher battle that might come, a Texas Senate education panel vigorously debated a trio of divisive proposals Thursday designed to award taxpayer — or donated — money to public school students to help pay tuition at private or religious learning institutions.

Editorial: Nix the status quo

Gregory Fenves is expected to emerge as early as today as the sole finalist in the search for a new president of the University of Texas at Austin. Currently executive vice president and provost at the university, Fenves may have the makings of a great university president but, frankly, we expected more from the University of Texas System Board of Regents in its search for a person to head the state's flagship university. We expected more imagination, more of a commitment to finding someone who would come to Austin with fresh eyes and a bold, new approach, someone eager to take one of the nation's premier public universities to the next level.

A Wiser Rick Perry Takes Campaign Step By Step

Cruz and Perry two have little in common outside of their shared home state. Unlike Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, fellow Floridians who seem to enjoy a collegial relationship and a deep mutual connection to their state, Perry and Cruz operate in different universes.

Chris Christie headed to Dallas today for campaign fundraiser

Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor with a love of the Dallas Cowboys, returns to Dallas on Thursday to scoop up some much-needed campaign cash. He’ll be at the home of developer and restaurateur Ray Washburne. In January, Washburne stepped down as national finance chairman for the Republican Party to sign on as finance chairman for the Christie presidential effort.