State government

A Taxing Session?

Lawmakers will find themselves in a multibillion-dollar ditch when they return to Austin in January 2011. Constitutionally, they can't write a deficit budget, so they're expected to use not just cuts but revenue raisers to keep the books in balance. Ben Philpott, who covers politics and public policy for KUT News and the Tribune, filed this report.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

The Textbook Myth

Despite all the handwringing about Texas' influence on the textbook market nationally, it's just not so, publishing insiders say. The state's clout has been on the wane and will diminish more as technological advances and political shifts transform the industry.

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TribBlog: Holding Steady

Texas unemployment held steady at 8.2 percent last month, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. That's the same seasonally adjusted rate as in January, December, and November, but it's up from 6.8 percent in February of 2009.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

Skinner Gets a Stay

Hank Skinner was set to die Wednesday for the 1993 murders of his live-in girlfriend and her two mentally disabled adult sons — a crime he insists he did not commit. About an hour before he was to have poison pushed through his veins, the U.S. Supreme Court spared his life.

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Jacob Villanueva

The Wild Card

“I was taught evolution, and it didn’t shake my faith in the Almighty whatsoever,” says George Clayton, who pulled off a stunning upset of incumbent Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, R-Dallas, in the GOP primary to win a seat on the State Board of Education. “Should creationism be taught as a counter to evolution? ... No, I don’t think so. I think evolution is in the science book. It should be taught as a science.”

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After the Fight

A year ago, staff at the Corpus Christi State School were forcing mentally disabled wards to fight each other, and state lawmakers raced to enact new accountability measures. How are they working out? Ben Philpott, who covers politics and public policy for KUT News and the Tribune, has this report.

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Matt Stiles

Redistricting Reality

In 2011, political mapmakers will take the latest census numbers (Texas is expected to have a population of more than 25 million) and use them to draw new congressional and legislative districts. The last time this was done, in 2003, Republican mappers took control of the U.S. House by peeling away seats from the Democrats. This time, Texas is poised to add up to four seats to its congressional delegation — and early numbers indicate bad news ahead for West Texas and other areas that haven't kept up with the state's phenomenal growth.

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The Runoffs: HD-127

Primary night was humming along swimmingly for Humble school board president Dan Huberty, and after the early vote he seemed headed to victory. Then the numbers dipped and his fortunes changed, and now he's in a heated GOP run-off with Dr. Susan Curling. As another Election Day draws closer, the contest is getting personal.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

TribBlog: Lawmakers Urge Perry to Grant Skinner Reprieve

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wrote Gov. Rick Perry letters today urging him to grant a 30-day reprieve for death-row inmate Hank Skinner, who is scheduled for execution tomorrow.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

Don't Blow It

Texas' wind power prowess is well known: Turbines have been popping up like weeds, and we now have three times the wind power installed as the next closest state. But other renewable energy sources have lagged here.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

TribBlog: SBOE vs. the Media

The State Board of Education accuses unnamed "media" of "erroneously" reporting its removal of Thomas Jefferson from state world history standards. Trouble is, the board statement is guilty of the same alleged lack of context, and it follows a pattern.

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Investing in Efficiency

Texans have always been far better at making energy than saving it. But if a proposal before the Public Utility Commission gets approved this year, buildings and appliances would need to become much more energy efficient by 2014. Electric providers across the state would be required to offset 50 percent of their customers' growth in usage with energy-efficiency measures — well above the current 20 percent requirement set by the Legislature.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom on the 1.2 million Texans who've lost their licenses under the Driver Responsibility Act and the impenetrable black box that is the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ramshaw and Kraft on nurses with substance abuse problems and rehabilitation that can get them back to work, M. Smith finds it's not easy being Rick Green, Stiles on counting Texans (and everybody else), Rapoport on the State Board of Education's war with itself and the runoff in SBOE District 10, Thevenot's revealing interview with a big-city superintendent on closing bad schools, Aguilar on the tensions over water on the Texas-Mexico border, Hamilton on the new Coffee Party, Hu on Kesha Rogers and why her party doesn't want her, Philpott on the runoff in HD-47, Ramsey on Bill White and the politics of taxes, and E. Smith's conversation with Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heleimann: The best of our best from March 15 to 19.

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