Politics

Castro: Start by Casting Aside Wishful Thinking

We need a balanced approach that uses our reserves and adds revenue. And we have to start by casting aside wishful thinking; we are writing the 2012-13 budget, with higher costs and increased enrollment in education and health care services — not some past budget.

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Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Few Obstacles Face Voter ID in the Legislature

Both sides cite stats and research papers to support their positions, with Democrats saying the photo voter ID law will suppress minority voting, and Republicans saying it won't do anything but stop fraud. Whatever it is, it's on its way into the law books.

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Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Lawmakers Propose Raiding Auto Theft Fund

House and Senate budget writers have proposed closing a little-known state agency that helps prevent and solve automobile theft and burglary. The catch? While they’re planning to kill the agency, they're not planning to stop collecting the fee you pay to keep it going.

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Bob Daemmrich

Fair Game?

Are families out of bounds in politics? A newspaper columnist's recent unflattering piece on Anita Perry has what passes for a Royal Court at the Capitol debating that question.

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Illustration by Todd Wiseman

The Kids Aren't All Right

The budget draft filed last week provided the first glimpse at the kind of deep cuts that state agencies could see in the next biennium. As Matt Largey of KUT News reports, advocates are particularly worried about what the final budget could hold for the agency that protects children from abuse and neglect.

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Illustration by Todd Wiseman/Bob Daemmrich

The Revenue Guesstimate

Lawmakers are waiting for Comptroller Susan Combs to forecast exactly how much money the state will collect between now and August 2013 so they can write a two-year budget that spends no more than that. It's not exactly like opening the envelopes at the Oscars, but the Capitol community will be hanging on her every word. If history is a guide, her estimate of revenues will be closer to the bull's eye than the Legislature's estimate of spending. But this is a dark art; accuracy can be elusive.

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A Taxing Problem

It's not hard to find strange bedfellows in the Texas Legislature when the bills start flying. Republicans and Democrats frequently cross the aisle to support legislation that they feel will help their constituents. As Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the same could be true as lawmakers try to figure out how to balance the state budget during the upcoming legislative session. Full Story 

A Taxing Problem

It's not hard to find strange bedfellows in the Texas Legislature when the bills start flying. Republicans and Democrats frequently cross the aisle to support legislation that they feel will help their constituents. As Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, the same could be true as lawmakers try to figure out how to balance the state budget.  

Full Story 
Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Congressional Clout

For the seventh consecutive decade, Texas will gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial apportionment process, which means extra clout after the 2012 elections. With Republicans in control of redrawing the state's congressional districts — and adding the four new seats — they stand to benefit the most. 

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Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Equal, But Not the Same

Lawmakers will spend the next six months drawing political maps for Texas, doing their decennial readjustment to make sure each district has the same number of people. But when they’re done, some parts of the state will still get more political attention than others, and the voters have only themselves to blame.

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Graphic by Matt Stiles

Now the Fun Begins

Texas won big Tuesday with the release of 2010 census data. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune takes a look at the numbers, which will have legislators redrawing state maps to add four new congressional seats.

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The Defectors

After announcing they were defecting from the Democratic Party, state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, and state Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, were welcomed by Texas Republican leaders at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. Full Story 
Illustration by Todd Wiseman

The Way Forward

Six weeks after the drubbing their party took at the hands of voters, surviving Texas House Democrats find themselves at a crossroads — on style and substance, politics and policy. With massive budget cuts looming, will they effectively sit out the session and force Republicans in the majority to have all the blood on their hands? Will they participate just enough to soften the blow in the areas they care about the most: education and health care? Can they hold together a solid 51-vote bloc on key legislation? Where exactly should they go from here? And who will lead them?

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flickr.com/photos/dborman2

Sell It Like It Is

Republican leaders in the Texas Legislature are insisting that it will be a no-new-taxes session. In response, one Democratic lawmaker is pushing to expand the definition of the word "taxes" to include fees. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports. Full Story