Mar 2, 2011 — By Patricia Kilday Hart
A giant billboard on MLK Blvd in Austin on the periphery of the University of Texas campus essentially offers students a job: "Want to teach? When can you start?" Apparently the organization paying for the message hasn't heard about the drama unfolding a few blocks away at the State Capitol, where school superintendents have been warning that state budget cuts could force tens of thousands of teacher layoffs. Wednesday, bleary-eyed Senate budget writers got another dose of bad news: the cuts they are considering to education could force the Teacher Retirement System's healthcare plan, TRS-Care, into insolvency by the second year of the next biennium. With higher than average layoffs expected, TRS is expecting "a huge hit on the retiree health care fund," said TRS executive director Ronnie Jung. If state funding cuts force schools to trim payroll by 5 percent (a conservative figure), TRS will have to absorb health care costs now paid by school districts for at least 10,000 additional retirees. (Jung says he wouldn't be surprised if the real figure is 15,000 or 20,000.) And the introduced version of SB 1 funds only a half a percent state contribution to TRS-care, down from one percent.
Feb 21, 2011 — By Patricia Kilday Hart
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testified before Senate Finance today, sharing his concern that crime in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio is very much connected to Mexican drug cartels, operating though the potent prison gangs Texas Syndicate and Texas Mafia. For most, that’s not particularly “new” news.
Feb 17, 2011 — By Patricia Kilday Hart
Wendy Davis just read a letter from the Texas Medical Association opposing the sonogram bill as a violation of the patient-doctor relationship. Dan Patrick is claiming there is no patient- doctor relationship, based on the testimony of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee profiled by Texas Monthly.
Feb 16, 2011 — By Patricia Kilday Hart
Today, House Appropriation’s overflow room was overflowing. Concerned citizens were lining up, some in wheelchairs, to testify about the pain that the proposed budget cuts would inflict. In January, when Chairman Jim Pitts laid out his draconian budget proposal, he called it “a starting point.” But as the days wear…
Feb 14, 2011 — By Patricia Kilday Hart
Over the weekend, Gov. Rick Perry essentially threw fellow Republican Susan Combs under the bus when he second-guessed her decision to try to collect sales taxes from Amazon, which has a big distribution center in Irving. In case you missed the story, here’s one version: Perry disagrees with Combs’ decision…
Feb 11, 2011 — By Patricia Kilday Hart
This just in from Will Hartnett’s office: Representative Will Hartnett, Master of Discovery for the Election Contest for Texas House District 48 releases the following statement: “After a thorough review of the numerous challenged ballots, I have concluded that Donna Howard won the House District 48 election by 4 votes.