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The Midday Brief: Feb. 1, 2011

Your afternoon reading: Senate hears testimony on foster kids, Howard-Neil fight under way, and Shapiro files school-mandate bill

Senators Juan Hinojosa _(D-Mission), Chairman Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) and John Whitmire (D-Houston) listen to testimony in the Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 31, 2011.

Your afternoon reading:

  • "State protective services chief Anne Heiligenstein dropped some bad news on Senate budget writers today: Her year-old push to redesign the payment system for foster care providers will be a non-starter if lawmakers approve proposed cuts that would effectively drive down rates by 12 percent." — Cuts to foster care, child protection draw fire, Trail Blazers
  • "Can it get any more depressing than hearing the word 'triage' applied to foster children? That’s what the Senate Finance Committee is hearing this morning about the effects of impending budget cuts on children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse. Yes, the same class of children who, only a few years ago, were spending the night in state offices because of lack of placement options. State workers will have only enough money to 'triage' kids who might be in danger of dying, not just miserably neglected and abused." — An appeal to Texas business, BurkaBlog
  • "Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, opened the first meeting of the Senate Education Committee this session by announcing she has filed a school mandate relief bill that will help school districts cope with a state funding reduction that could be as high as $5 billion next year." — Sen. Shapiro files school mandate relief bill, Trail Blazers
  • "Texas' budget problems will not go away when legislators eventually sign a balanced budget later this year, senators heard on Monday. A $10 billion budget shortfall will reappear in future legislative sessions again and again unless lawmakers better align how much money comes in and how much goes out, said John Heleman, chief revenue estimator for Comptroller Susan Combs." — Texas' budget challenges could persist beyond 2011, Austin American-Statesman
  • "Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, is the new House Democratic Leader, a post previously, prominently, held by former Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco." — Democrats pick their House leadership, Texas Politics

New in The Texas Tribune:

  • "Both sides cite stats and research papers to support their positions, with Democrats saying the photo ID law will suppress minority voting, and Republicans saying it won't do anything but stop fraud. Both sides are dug in, and dug in on partisan lines. And the issue is arguably more about politics than about policy, anyway, a proxy for other wars about party politics, about immigration and minorities, about security and freedom. Whatever it is, it's on its way into the law books." — Few Obstacles Face Voter ID in the Legislature
  • "More than a dozen witnesses took the stand this morning to testify about where they lived and how they voted in the House District 48 contest in the November 2010 election." — Testimony Under Way in HD-48 Fight
  • "The latest from Gov. Rick Perry's preferred polling firm, Baselice & Associates, shows that 70 percent of Texans support a ban on indoor smoking, including in restaurants and bars." — New Poll Shows Support for Indoor Smoking Ban
  • "Pending Senate confirmation, Gail Lowe will serve another term as head of the State Board of Education. Gov. Rick Perry has reappointed the Lampasas Republican to lead the board that oversees the state's public school system." — Gail Lowe Reappointed as Education Board Chair
  • "Sam Kinch Jr., the founding editor of Texas Weekly and a former political and government correspondent for The Dallas Morning News, died shortly after midnight, according to a spokesman for the family. He was 70, and had been battling pancreatic cancer, emphysema and congestive heart disease." — Sam Kinch Jr., 1940-2011

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