Ross Ramsey — Click for higher resolution staff photos

Ross Ramsey

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, where he writes regular columns on politics, government and public policy. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

Recent Contributions

The Trouble with Becky

The "Rebecca" flap at the Texas Railroad Commission is giving outsiders a rationale for campaigns against RRC Chairman Michael Williams and giving insiders a reason to fund those campaigns.

Full Story 

Changes at the Starting Gate

The Tony Sanchez Jr. campaign has its first casualty. The not-yet-declared Democratic gubernatorial candidate hired a veteran migrant political worker—Robin Rorapaugh—as his campaign manager earlier this year. But Rorapaugh, who started here before moving to Florida to work on campaigns there, is heading back to the Sunshine State.

Full Story 

Chaos Theory

Underneath the talk about how things are going for the new management in Washington, D.C., there is serious turbulence in the new management that was left behind in Austin. And the "Under New Management" sign that figuratively hangs over the Texas Capitol will remain in place for almost two more years.

Full Story 

While You Were Out

Message Slip Number One: Sen. David Sibley, the only Republican candidate for lieutenant governor with any legislative experience, dropped out of the race. He said, essentially, that his heart wasn't in it, but the way he said it was to point out that campaigning for a Senate seat is kind of fun, and campaigning for statewide office isn't the same. The Waco lawyer hasn't announced his next step, but he's got lots of options: Get out of office and get rich as a lawyer/lobbyist with close ties to the top executives in Washington, D.C. (Crawford, Texas, happens to be in Sibley's district, and he and President George W. Bush are friends), and Austin (after some initial jousting, Sibley and Gov. Rick Perry worked out an alliance that still holds). Sibley could run for reelection. He's been mentioned as a possible justice for the Texas Supreme Court, which has suddenly become a launch pad for statewide campaigns and federal appointments. He's been mentioned as a federal judicial appointee, and in fact, took the test for such a position before withdrawing his name so he could run for Lite Guv. Sibley's announcement leaves former Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott and Land Commissioner David Dewhurst on the GOP side, and former Comptroller John Sharp and former U.S. Selective Service Director Gil Coronado on the Democratic side.

Full Story 

It Takes Two to (Uncomfortably) Tango

If you want to know why Carole Keeton Rylander showed up with an incomplete political map for the Texas Senate at the last Legislative Redistricting Board meeting, it helps to know that the map was, at one time, complete. But it was full of pairings and duets that West Texas Republicans couldn't stand, and so the comptroller decided to come in with a map for only 27 of the 31 Senate districts.

Full Story 

Why Doesn't Anybody Believe Phil Gramm?

Maybe this will turn out to be a case where the outlanders were caught telling scary stories around the campfire, but there sure are a lot of Democrats talking about challenging U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm. The list of names is growing even as Gramm says he has no intention of stepping down.

Full Story 

School Finance, Without Taxes

The upcoming school finance study could be a two-parter, with a special panel looking at everything except taxes and then and only then messing with taxes, and only if they must. That, according to Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, would separate the thicket of school funding formulas from the bramble of state taxes. Both are hairy problems, and they are interwoven, but Ratliff says he and House Speaker Pete Laney lean toward starting an interim study on school finance with taxes removed.

Full Story 

Weighing In, Finally

Nobody predicted Gov. Rick Perry would set a record by vetoing 82 bills at the end of the session, but neither should anyone be completely surprised. The tension between the governor and the Legislature has been unrelenting since the November elections. If nothing else, they leave the governor's mark on a session where he had previously had little impact.

Full Story 

On Pins and Needles

Some major legislation was still on the Maybe-Maybe Not list as the governor's June 17 veto deadline approached. The list included the so-called Penry Bill, which would insert an evaluation of mental retardation into the state's death penalty process and make it more difficult for the state to execute mentally retarded murderers. Gov. Rick Perry originally said the issue should be left to the courts, since the case involving Johnny Paul Penry was, at the time, pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. That court has since ruled (on a related, but somewhat different point about the judge's instructions to the jury) and Perry no longer has that excuse. He's getting advice both ways, both internally and externally, but hadn't made a decision as of late Thursday.

Full Story 

A False Start and a Race to the Stage

After an arduous and grueling ten-day campaign (we're joking, but only a little), Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff dropped out of the 2002 race for the job he already holds. Ratliff jumped into the race on the last Saturday of the session, surrounded by family and bolstered by the presence of nearly a dozen senators. Less than two weeks later, he was standing in front of a bank of cameras and reporters to say that he wasn't willing to make the compromises necessary in a successful statewide campaign.

Full Story 

Redistricting Reboot

Eight days isn't much of a cooling off period, but the Legislative Redistricting Board will convene on Wednesday to start up to 60 days of work drawing political boundaries for the 2002 races for Texas House and Texas Senate. That start date puts the deadline for the LRB in the first week of August.

Full Story 

Out Like a Lamb

The dramatic peak of the 77th legislative session came several weeks ago, when the House was trying to redistrict itself and the Senate was trying not to self-immolate on the hate crimes bill and its own redistricting maps. The end of the session, by contrast, seems as gentle as a receding tide.

Full Story 

Real Men Don't Need Maps

Remember the burning map that used to open the TV show Bonanza? That might as well have been the plans for new political districts in Texas. At our deadline, it was impossible to say with any hope of certitude whether legislative redistricting plans were alive or dead. They weren't moving, but they had time to move if lawmakers found a compromise, and if they hurried.

Full Story 

A Biennial Power Surge

The powers of state officeholders ebb and flow with the calendar. The end of the legislative session is when the governor's powers peak, when the comptroller has one last moment of leverage, when budgeteers' prospects are in bloom and when the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House bring their full powers over the legislative agenda to bear. If you see legislative supplicants standing in line to plead for something, chances are the line will lead to one of those people.

Full Story 

The Moment We've All Been Waiting For

Three weeks from the date at the top of this edition, the Legislature will gavel to a close and go home. That'll be a relief, to be sure, but the 21 days that lead up to Sine Die will be hectic and the issues that have dominated the conversations in the Pink Building since January are finally coming to a head.

Full Story