Ben Philpott Reporter

Ben Philpott is a senior reporter for KUT-FM, Austin's National Public Radio affiliate. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002, during which time he has been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Houston Press Club and the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

Recent Contributions

A Schoolyard Brawl

Tension between Texas and the federal government has been a major focus of Rick Perry's re-election campaign. But on Monday, two top Democratic leaders in the Texas House ganged up on Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott and, by proxy, the governor over the recent federal education funds fight. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Justice on the Cheap

As part of an occasional series looking into how shortfall-inspired budget cuts could affect different state agencies heading into the 2011 legislative session, Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports on the likely impact on the state's criminal justice system.

Can Harris County Elections Rise from the Ashes?

It's been nearly four weeks since a warehouse fire destroyed nearly all of Harris County's election equipment, including almost 10,000 e-Slate voting machines. But as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the state's most populous county insists it's ready to hold a normal election.

Much Less Stimulated

The Legislative Budget Board says the state used about $14 billion in federal stimulus money to balance to budget in the current biennium. Lawmakers warned state agencies that those dollars were to be used for one-time expenditures only, but not all agencies followed that advice. With the next biennium's shortfall projected to be as much as $21 billion and no new fed-stim money available, what to do? Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Cutting School

The Texas Education Agency has submitted a proposal to slash 10 percent of its budget to help close the state's coming shortfall, which could be as much as $21 billion. Among the items on the chopping block: outside-the-classroom expenditures that, Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, could have a dramatic affect on student outcomes.

Gubernatorial Debate, R.I.P.

That deadline set by Rick Perry has come and gone. The governor gave his Democratic challenger, Bill White, until midnight last night to release tax returns from his days as Deputy Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration. So, for now, it looks like Texas voters will not get to see the two men duke it out on the same stage. Ben Philpott KUT News and the Tribune has this report.

Beyond the Bake Sale

With or without the controversial federal education funding that would come with Texas-specific strings attached, many of the state's school districts are preparing for tough budgetary times ahead — and they're getting creative about potential solutions. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Mind the Gap

Texas lawmakers will have their hands full filling a budget hole in 2011 of $18 billion or more, but the projected shortfall is great political fodder for candidates of both parties in 2010. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Is the Governor's Race Really Tied?

A poll released Tuesday shows the Texas governor's race in a virtual dead heat. Conducted by the GOP firm Hill Research Consultants, it has Rick Perry leading Bill White 42 percent to 41 percent, with 14 percent undecided. Other polls this summer, however, have shown the governor with a much larger lead. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

An Accurate Reading

Rick Perry asserts the Texas economy is one of the strongest in the nation. Bill White eagerly points out what he says are the problems the governor conveniently overlooks. Who's right? Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune looks at how we stack up compared to other states — and our own history.

Man, Oh, Mandates

State lawmakers facing an estimated $18 billion budget shortfall will soon wield their knives, but who or what will sustain deep cuts? As Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, county officials are among those waiting to see how the legislative slice-and-dice could affect things back home — and they're particularly nervous about unfunded mandates.

The Smoke Clears

Harris County — home to the largest city in Texas — will be without all 10,000 of its voting machines on Election Day after they were destroyed in a fire. County commissioners held an emergency meeting this week to figure out how to move forward. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune has this report.

Food Fight

Last week, Republicans loudly complained about a just-approved bill that would send $830 million in federal education funds to Texas with strings attached. But as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, Democrats have their own reason to balk.

NPR's Weekend Edition Profiles the Trib

NPR's David Folkenflik profiled the Trib on Weekend Edition Sunday, describing both the opportunities and challenges for a nonprofit news organization after nine months in operation.

Alone Together

Gov. Rick Perry and his Democratic challenger, Bill White, appeared on the same stage in Austin on Thursday. But anyone itching for a debate between the two was disappointed. The candidates were separated on the schedule by other speakers and were never even in the room at the same time. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune filed this report.