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.

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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.

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Texas Weekly's Hot List, Vol. 2

Our latest look at the most competitive races on the Texas congressional and legislative ballots now includes five more contests, each with Democratic incumbents. If GOP exuberance turns out to be rational, these seats could be in play. Only one race changes categories this week: CD-23, which was Red last week but has been downgraded to Orange.

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Perry by 6 in Volatile Race

Gov. Rick Perry leads Bill White 39 percent to 33 percent in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, whose most interesting finding is a restless electorate dissatisfied with conventional choices up and down the ballot. In the governor's race, 22 percent of respondents said they were undecided about which candidate to support with only seven weeks to go in the fall campaign. Third-party candidates are capturing enough of the vote to affect the outcomes of some statewide contests. And 31 percent of respondents — nearly one in three Texans — consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement.

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 Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Accountability U.

Like a conglomerate auditing balance sheets, the Texas A&M University System has for six months been dissecting the financial contribution of every faculty member on its 11 campuses around the state, subtracting the salary of each from the tuition and research money he or she brings in. The resulting metrics present in stark detail exactly where the system gets the most and least bang for its payroll buck — and have raised the hackles of professors at all levels, who liken the approach to grading assembly-line workers on widget production.

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 James Henson/UT

2010: Poll-Land

A new political survey says Gov. Rick Perry is beating Democrat Bill White in the governor's race, but also shows the incumbent is unpopular with half of likely Texas voters and that the same percentage of voters support a two-term limit for governors.

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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.

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2010: A Dead Heat?

And now for something completely different: Rick Perry and Bill White are virtually tied in the race for governor, according to a poll done for Texas Watch by Republican pollster Hill Research Consultants.

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 Illustration by Marjorie Cotera/Todd Wiseman

The Bellwether

As U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, goes, so go the Democrats? In a hyper-partisan year, with control of the U.S. House up for grabs, all eyes are on Congressional District 17, the most Republican district in America held by a Democrat. Pundits think Edwards may finally get beat: Were he to survive, a D.C. analyst says, it would be "one of the greatest Houdini acts ever seen in Texas politics." But the 10-term incumbent has seen awful political environments before. “The Washington Generals have a better record against Harlem Globetrotters than the [National Republican Congressional Committee] does in predicting my defeat," he says.

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The Sting of the Killer Bees

The rules of the Texas Senate are designed to create an orderly process that respects the rights of individual members. They have lasted this long because they do the job well and consider the need for compromise in the legislative operation. Trampling the rights of the minority is never a good idea — and yet it has happened over and over again. An excerpt from the forthcoming How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics.

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 Graphic by Todd Wiseman

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Galbraith on grass, federal money and efforts to prevent another dust bowl, Ergenbright on school suspensions and who gets punished; Aguilar's interview with Alan Bersin, whose job is to keep the U.S./Mexico border secure, M. Smith on why it would be harder than you think to ditch the 14th Amendment, Adler and me on whether controversy is politically contagious, Ramshaw on the flap over funding for the state's institutions for the disabled (it's not about the money), my meditation on the state's fiscal woes (including a $1.3 billion deficit in the current budget), Philpott on proposed cuts to the state's food stamp program, Grissom on the push by Hidalgo County officials for a special election that might not be legal; Hamilton on the seven Texas universities that are making a play for Tier One status and Stiles on the mid-year cash-on-hand numbers reported by campaigns and political action committees: The best of our best from August 16 to 23, 2010.

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The Weekly TribCast: Episode 41

Ben, Ross, Evan and Matt talk about President Obama's visit to Texas and who didn't want to be seen with him, the battle over strings attached to federal education money, Bill White's donor-appointees and the legal and political definitions of residency.

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 Jacob Villanueva

Every Doggett Has His Day

The U.S. House has passed a bill on Tuesday that is expected to send about $800 million to bolster the state’s education budget. But thanks to an amendment added by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, the funding comes with Texas-specific strings attached. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune has this report.

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TribBlog: Border Residents Feel Safe, Poll Finds

A large majority of the residents of Texas cities on the U.S.-Mexico border feel relatively safe despite harsh rhetoric from lawmakers and a consistent media portrayal of their communities as war zones, according to a poll released today.

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 Bob Daemmrich

The Polling Center: White's No Mad Man

Bill White deciding to travel to points far from Austin and Dallas while President Barack Obama visits the state today to raise money and speak at the University of Texas presents us with yet another mountain-out-of-a-molehill political story in the long, hot summer of gassy coverage of the governor’s race. A look at Obama’s standing in Texas makes it clear that White would be nuts to share a stage with Obama unless he feels like doing a favor for Gov. Rick Perry’s ad team.

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