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.
You wouldn’t be out of line wondering why Texas school finance didn’t get fixed in 2017. Or 2015. Or 2013. But it’s because this is a hard policy problem and a harder political one. The prompt now is that property taxes have gotten so far out of hand that lawmakers have no choice but to act.
You think politicians don’t listen? One might argue that they listen too closely. “I’ll consider every alternative,” sounds reasonable, except in politics. In politics, some things are simply not to be talked about.
Guns, taxes, capital punishment, sanctuary cities and minimum wages play well with some audiences. What Lupe Valdez is talking about on her way to the Texas Democratic primaries could be risky if she makes it to the general election.
Anguish over property taxes is at or near the top of the list of what politicians hear most often from Texans. This is not a complicated part of the civic compact: Voters are peeved. Politicians aim to please. Lowering taxes would make a politician popular with voters.
Candidates run to the things that help them, run away from the things that hurt them and leave the rest alone. Republicans are not running from President Donald Trump, an indication they don't think voters want them to.
Recovering from historic storms can take a long, long time, as the Texas Gulf Coast knows. And we’re entering an election year in which the voters will have a chance to grade incumbents on the longer-term response to Hurricane Harvey.
TribTalk is a place for opinions and editorials and even poetry (sometimes, if it’s great) written by people who are usually in the audience instead of on stage. Here are the best columns from this year.
The end of the year is when property owners have to pay their taxes — an increasingly large bill in Texas that’s a key part of the state’s rickety school finance system. Here’s a sampling of columns tracking that debate in 2017.
Some of the political kids in Texas wanted a quick ruling on redistricting for Christmas, a perennial request that never seems to be granted. With just two Texas elections left in the decade, the courts are still arguing over the state's maps.
2017 was the year when House Speaker Joe Straus found his voice, when the culture conservatives lost out to the business conservatives and when the fault lines that define today’s Texas GOP opened up for everyone to see.