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The Evening Brief: Aug. 17, 2012

Your evening reading: UT System announces plans for South Texas medical school; state's unemployment rate rises to 7.2 percent; aide to state representative under investigation for travel reimbursements

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New in The Texas Tribune:

•   UT System to Establish Medical School in South Texas: "Amid major changes at health science centers across the state, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa on Friday announced his intention to establish a freestanding medical school in the Rio Grande Valley."

•   Despite Two Years of Job Growth, Texas Unemployment Inches Up: "Texas may have reached a milestone in July, reporting two straight years of job growth. But the unemployment rate inched up again last month, from 7 percent to 7.2 percent, while economic growth remained relatively consistent."

•   Integrity Unit Investigating Top Aide to Rep. Kleinschmidt: "John Higgins, a top aide to state Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington, is under criminal investigation for alleged improprieties related to travel  reimbursements he got from the state, a prosecutor told the Tribune on Friday."

•   Off Beaten Path, Coastal Cabins Are Paradise for Their Permit Holders: "Through a nearly 40-year-old program run by the Texas General Land Office, several people hold permits to use cabins on remote, state-owned islands near the Intracoastal Waterway. Permit holders love the isolation — and the fishing."


•   Texas risks losing $31 million in federal transportation funding (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "More than $473 million in funds earmarked years ago by Congress for transportation projects remains unspent — including nearly $31 million in Texas — and federal officials on Friday declared that states have until the end of the year to spend the money or risk losing it."

•   Will Texas take $31 million in ‘free’ highway money from Uncle Sam? (Houston Chronicle): "Texas is eligible for $31 million from the unspent earmark pot, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today. The money can be spent by Texas and other states on any eligible highway, transit, passenger rail, or port project. 'We’re releasing these funds so Texas can get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work,' LaHood said. The unspent earmark money represents a double-edged sword to both the White House and Republican-controlled states such as Texas."

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