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The Brief: Jan. 30, 2014

New research by a Sam Houston State University economics professor finds Texas fifth in income inequality. Could it become a big issue in the governor's race?

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The Big Conversation

New research by a Sam Houston State University economics professor finds Texas fifth in income inequality — trailing just New York, Connecticut, Florida and California. Mark Frank told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Steve Campbell that the wealth gap in Texas might actually be increasing. In 2011, the top 10 percent of wage earners in the state received 48 percent of all the income. “For 2012, I wouldn’t be surprised if we cross the 50 percent threshold for the top 10 percent,” Frank said.

“Historically, education has been among the single best predictors of economic resources — income, wealth and ownership,” former state demographer Steve Murdock, who has a book coming out next month on the changes facing Texas, told Campbell. “Part of what we are saying in this book is that if we don’t change educational levels, Texas will be poorer and Texas will be less competitive.”

Income inequality until now has been a topic confined mainly to the national level because of President Barack Obama's decision to champion the issue. But if income inequality has its roots in the quality of a person's education, that would suggest that the issue could end up a major point of debate between the two major parties' candidates for governor in Texas.

The Day Ahead

•    Comptroller candidate Debra Medina sits down for a TribLive conversation at the Austin Club at 8 a.m. Come on down or enjoy the livestream from the comfort of your computer.

•    Gov. Rick Perry is in Round Rock to give remarks at the grand opening of the Emerson Innovation Center, 2:30 p.m.

Today in the Trib

In Gubernatorial Race, Candidates Spend Big to Win Big: "In the high-stakes gubernatorial race, the candidates are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in a competition to raise more money — and, hopefully, win more votes — than the competition."

In Stickland Re-election Bid, A Fiercely Divided GOP: "After a polarizing freshman term in the statehouse, Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, a Tea Party backer, has drawn backlash from conservative Republicans in a closely watched race for control of a seat in Texas Republicans' last urban stronghold."

Concerns Over Tuition Increases as A&M Board Prepares to Meet: "As the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents gathers for a meeting in Galveston on Thursday, some students in College Station are concerned that the regents, while miles away, will increase tuition at the flagship university."

Widow Takes Aim at Law Enforcement in Mexico: "Months after her husband was killed in Mexico, Lorena Acosta finally laid her husband to rest on Monday in West Texas. Acosta hopes to use her personal tragedy to spotlight what she said are deep-seated problems within law enforcement south of the border."


Ted Cruz, Eric Holder mix it up at hearing, Politico

Stockman “breaks the mold,” says leader of foreign trip that kept him mysteriously off grid, The Dallas Morning News

Harris County puts appraisal district on notice, Houston Chronicle

Ed board moves closer to dropping math requirement, The Associated Press

EPA to keep Texas air permitting rules intact, Austin American-Statesman

Texas’ Next Governor? Meet Greg Abbott, Governing

Texas Democrats call for investigation into Rockwall County Clerk's office, Rockwall Herald-Banner

Quote to Note

"So these Republicans in Texas have been saying some really crappy things about Wendy Davis, saying she's a lousy mom — just really personal crap. It's really the reason why people hate politics. You know what? The empire didn't strike back. Her daughters did. And, man, what a strong defense they gave for Wendy Davis, basically saying, we had great parents, thank you very much. Stop lying about it. I thought it was great."

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough on the attacks brought against Davis

News From Home

Only a few more days in the free preview of Texas Weekly. Enjoy it while you can, but don’t wait to sign up! It all ends Feb. 1.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, candidate for lieutenant governor, at the Austin Club, 2/6

•    Sen. Kel Seliger and Reps. John Smithee and Four Price at West Texas A&M in Canyon, 2/7

•    Reps. Joe Deshotel and Allan Ritter at Lamar University in Beaumont, 2/19

•    Texas Tribune Festival On the Road at The University of Texas El Paso for a daylong symposium on demographic change, 2/27

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Politics Four Price Greg Abbott John Smithee Kel Seliger Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis