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The Evening Brief: Dec. 12, 2013

Your evening reading: UT-Austin president can keep his job; Combs reports a bigger than expected budget surplus; a rift at A&M on interim president selection

University of Texas President Bill Powers during the December 12th, 2013 UT System  Board of Regents meeting in Austin, Texas

New in The Texas Tribune

•    UT President Powers Keeps Job, Encouraged to Improve: "University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers will keep his job for the foreseeable future, following a Thursday meeting of the University of Texas System Board of Regents at which there was a chance of his future being put to a vote."

•    Comptroller: Texas Budget Surplus Bigger Than Expected: "Comptroller Susan Combs reported that Texas ended the 2012-13 biennium with a $2.6 billion surplus, more than double the $964 million surplus her office projected over the summer. ... The revisions means that the Rainy Day Fund could be more flush than expected for the 2015 legislative session, even after lawmakers backed measures asking voters to approve tapping the fund's revenue stream for water and road projects."

•    Road Funding Figures Surprise Some Counties: "A $225 million fund Texas lawmakers approved this year for counties impacted by the state’s oil and gas boom could end up being dispersed statewide, even in areas far away from any drilling. That's good news for those who didn't expect any funding, but other counties that have seen the bulk of road damage from energy exploration say they deserve more money."

•    Polling Center: GOP Candidates Bet on Border Security: "Results from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll suggests that invoking border security might offer a safe way to speak directly to a GOP primary audience, linking immigration concerns to a tightening of the border without alarming general election voters, including many Latinos."

•    Video: A Hard-Copy Approach to ACA in the Valley: "Many Rio Grande Valley residents enrolling for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act opt for the paper application, largely avoiding the federal online marketplace. But the paper process poses its own challenges."


•    Sources say Texas A&M officials split over proposed interim leaders (Bryan-College Station Eagle): "The Texas A&M University System regents are scheduled to nominate an interim president for their flagship university this weekend, and the rumored candidates have divided administration, faculty and regents. More so, the split has seemingly brought the longstanding rivalry between onetime Aggie classmates Gov. Rick Perry and A&M System Chancellor John Sharp back into the public spotlight."

•    19,000 weigh in on new abortion rule (San Antonio Express-News): "State health officials readying to approve final rules for the fourth component of Texas' new abortion law are poised to ignore more than 19,000 people who petitioned regulators to exempt existing clinics from making costly upgrades."

•    Panel seeks landmark designation for Astrodome (Houston Chronicle): "A vote on Thursday by the city historical commission to seek landmark designation for the iconic Astrodome could hang up any future changes Harris County wants to make to exterior of the 48-year-old stadium."

•    Mexican Congress approves historic energy bill (The Associated Press): "Mexico's Congress voted Thursday to open the country's moribund state-run oil industry to foreign and domestic investors, casting aside nationalist opposition to approve the most dramatic energy reform in seven decades."

•    Texas Plan to Execute Mexican May Harm U.S. Ties Abroad, Kerry Says (The New York Times): "The scheduled execution next month of a Mexican national by the State of Texas threatens to damage relations between the United States and Mexico and complicate the ability of the United States to help Americans detained overseas, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has warned Texas officials."

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