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The Evening Brief: Jan. 7, 2013

Your evening reading: Combs delivers improved state budget news; Huffman to lead Senate Republican Caucus; Cornyn calls Hagel "profoundly wrong" on national security issues

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, citing a robust economy,  releases the Biennial Revenue Estimate showing that the state is projected to have over $100 billion available for spending in the next biennium.

New in The Texas Tribune:

•   Combs Says Texas Lawmakers Will Have $101.4 Billion for Budget: "A day before the start of the 2013 legislative session, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs delivered much-improved budget news compared with two years ago. Lawmakers will have $101.4 billion for their next two-year budget."

•   Report: $18 Billion Spent on Federal Immigration Enforcement: "A new report estimates that the federal government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement efforts in fiscal year 2012, about 24 percent more than it spent on all major law enforcement agencies combined."

•   State of Mind: Fighting to Restore Health Care Cuts: "For the past year, many Texas doctors who treat the most vulnerable patients have struggled to keep their doors open. Cuts passed in the 2011 legislative session slashed payments for care of the state’s 465,000 patients eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. Doctors in the Rio Grande Valley say they’ll be focused on reversing the cuts."

•   T-Squared: A Bit of Housekeeping: "The most observant Trib fans may have already noticed: There are some small-to-the-eye but big-for-the-site changes to how we organize news and information."


•   Huffman to chair Senate Republican Caucus (Houston Chronicle): "State Sen. Joan Huffman, of Southside Place near Houston, was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus on the eve of the 83rd Legislative Session. Huffman assumes the role of coordinating the majority party in the Senate chamber and setting the tone for which issues will be tackled by the 31-member body. The Senate Republican Caucus will meet every Monday to discuss legislative decisions, a spokesman said."

•   Sen. John Cornyn calls Chuck Hagel wrong for Pentagon, "profoundly wrong" on Iran (The Dallas Morning News): "Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the deputy GOP leader, is calling Chuck Hagel 'profoundly wrong on some of the biggest national security threats confronting the United States today, namely a nuclear Iran.'"

•   Rick Perry for president? Legislative session gives him chance to burnish credentials (San Antonio Express-News): "The legislative session that opens Tuesday will give Gov. Rick Perry a chance to burnish his credentials if he chooses to make another run for president in 2016. But some are hard-pressed to imagine a session — or anything else — good enough to make voters forget his disastrous White House race that limped to an end just about a year ago."

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