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The Brief: May 13, 2010

Sales tax collections up slightly last month, Perry's take on gambling, Cornyn and predator drones and more U.S. citizens killed in Mexico.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

For the first time in 14 months, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts announced a gain in sales-tax revenue collections when compared to the same time frame last year. The $1.8 billion collected in April is an increase of 1.4 percent compared to April 2009. Comptroller Susan Combs called the increase a “modest” one, however, and cautioned that expecting this to be a start of a trend could lead to disappointment.

“April may signal the beginning of a recovery in sales tax collections, although further declines may occur as the sales tax gradually returns to growth,” Combs stated in a news release Wednesday. Sales tax revenue accounts for approximately 60 percent of the state’s budget, and while collections from retail trade rose almost 5 percent, Combs said remittances from oil, natural gas and construction declined slightly.

The announcement came a day after the state’s budget writers received word lawmakers could face as much as an $18 billion shortfall.

CULLED: 

  • Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday restated his opposition to expanded gambling operations in Texas, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News. The paper said Perry highly recommends lawmakers “don’t send [gambling legislation] to his desk.” After hearing about the state’s now purported $15 billion to $18 billion deficit, some lawmakers suggested revenue earned from gambling operations could help offset that gap. 
  • Customs and Border Enforcement Commissioner Alan Bersin will go before the Senate Finance Committee today, where he is expected to face a series of questions by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, about the lack of an unmanned predator drone on Texas’ border with Mexico. Bersin was tapped by President Obama in late March through a recess appointment after the president claimed lawmakers were dragging their feet on Bersin and several other nominations. Bersin’s nomination was resubmitted in order to secure a permanent appointment, according to Cornyn’s press secretary.
  • Three more U.S. citizens were murdered in Juárez, U.S. and Mexican officials announced Tuesday, according to sources quoted in the El Paso Times. Gunmen kidnapped La Mesa, N.M., citizens Rafael Morales Valencia, 29, Jaime Morales Valencia, 25, and their uncle, Guadalupe Morales Arriola, 51, from the elder Morales Valencia’s wedding Friday in Juárez, and their remains were found in the bed of a Toyota truck earlier this week. Two U.S. citizens from El Paso, a woman who worked for the U.S. consulate in Juárez and her El Paso Sheriff’s Department deputy husband, were murdered in the border city in March. 

MUST READ:

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