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

Redrawing the Lines

Redistricting is a highly partisan exercise, but there's likely to be more at work than mere politics in 2011. Shifts in the state’s population and demographics will play a large part in shaping where new congressional and legislative boundaries are set.

The Ditch: Do It Yourself

On Friday, state agencies were told to cut another 10 percent from their budgets as a way of closing what could be an $18 billion biennial shortfall. But those cuts will only scratch the surface of what's needed, so what to do next?

Drop and Give 'Em 10

The governor, lieutenant governor and speaker directed all state agencies on Friday to cut their budgets by an additional 10 percent. Last week, those same agencies had their current budgets trimmed by a total of around $1.2 billion in an effort to close a projected $18 billion budget shortfall in the next legislative session. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Collared Greens

Green Party officials drop off about 93,000 signatures to the Texas Secretary of State.
Green Party officials drop off about 93,000 signatures to the Texas Secretary of State.
Texas has among the most restrictive ballot access laws of any state, which is why the Green Party hasn't put its candidates before voters here since 2002. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports that party activists hope to end the dry spell this year.

Work in Progress

More jobs in Texas...but more people looking too.
More jobs in Texas...but more people looking too.
The latest employment numbers show that more Texans than ever before have jobs, but the state is still struggling with its highest unemployment rate since 1987. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports on the good and bad news in the latest stats.

Health Care, Conservatives and 2011

When they return to Austin for the next legislative session. lawmakers will confront, for the first time as a group, federal health care reform. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports on how some conservative activists and politicians think Texas should respond.

Nip and Tuck

In January, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker asked state agencies to cut 5 percent from their 2010 budgets. On Tuesday the three state leaders released a list of cuts — and revealed a few exemptions to their earlier order. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

Unemployment Stimulus Still Available?

An announcement board in an Austin unemployment office.
An announcement board in an Austin unemployment office.

Rick Perry made national headlines last year when he announced Texas was turning down unemployment insurance benefits available as part of the federal stimulus package. Attempts by state lawmakers to get their hands on the money anyway ran out of time at the end of the Legislative session, but as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the $555 million is still there for the taking.

How's Tricks?

Staring down a shortfall of as much as $18 billion, lawmakers could employ a handful of accounting tricks to kick some payments down the road, saving several billion dollars. How exactly would that work? This dramatization demonstrates how similar tricks could be used to lower a restaurant bill.

A Hostile Climate

The Obama administration's push to pass carbon control legislation got a boost yesterday with the release of a new version of the bill in the U.S. Senate. Here in Texas, as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the state's GOP leadership continues to fight back against what they view as an energy tax bill.

In Too Deep

Lawmakers fishing for ideas on how to deal with a coming budget shortfall are going to need a bigger rod and reel: The newest projections show itl could be as much as $18 billion.

A Crude Awakening

SPencer Abraham in Austin at a Green Energy Summit
SPencer Abraham in Austin at a Green Energy Summit
Officials of the companies involved in the oil spill in the Gulf spent time on Capitol Hill this week blaming each other for the environmental devastation it has caused. But what about the economic devastation? Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune posed that question to former U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Cornyn on the Kagan Nomination

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol
Now that Barack Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, the hard part begins: getting her confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Ben Philpott, who's reporting this election cycle for KUT News and the Tribune, asked U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to preview the battle ahead.

The Green Mile

Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham was in Austin yesterday as part of a travelling conference on how far we have to go to address the county’s renewable energy challenges. Abraham spoke with Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune about his message to public and private sector players.

The Blame Game

Response boats work to clean up oil where the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig sank on April 22, 2010.
Response boats work to clean up oil where the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig sank on April 22, 2010.
Lawsuits have already been filed over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with a range of plaintiffs, from shrimpers to resort owners, seeking damages from BP and other companies. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports on the legal battle ahead.