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The Brief: Top Texas News for Feb. 23, 2011

The budget shortfall might be inspiring Texans to hedge their bets.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The budget shortfall might be inspiring Texans to hedge their bets.

In the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 56 percent of respondents said they supported the legalization of casino gambling in Texas — up from 40 percent a year ago. Opposition to any expansion of gambling also fell from 31 percent to 19 percent.

The numbers may signal a willingness on Texans' part to allow legislators to expand gambling laws to help fill a $15 billion to $27 billion budget shortfall, which the same poll showed gaining ground on a list of issues that have Texans concerned. "Texans are not ideologically opposed to revenue increases," says pollster Jim Henson.

According to the poll, 75 percent of Texans — including a majority of Democrats and Hispanics — support requiring voters to show photo ID before voting. (Though, interestingly, voter fraud came in dead last among the issues facing Texas considered most important.) The Texas Senate has already approved such a bill this session, and the House is expected to do the same.

Voters also support another issue that just passed through the Senate: requiring doctors to perform sonograms on women seeking abortions. Fifty-four percent said they supported the practice, while 36 percent opposed.

Check out Ross Ramsey's full story for the complete numbers and for other issues on which Texans were polled, including capital punishment and doctor-assisted suicide.

CULLED:

  • Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert will announce today that he plans to resign, WFAA-TV reported last night. But The Dallas Morning News says he may wait to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, for which he's been widely expected to run.

"You are here to say no to the most racist session of the Texas Legislature in a quarter of a century." — State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, to hundreds of demonstrators who gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to protest proposed immigration legislation

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