The dean of the Capitol press corps, senior executive editor Paul Burka joined the staff of Texas Monthly one year after the magazine’s founding, in 1973. For nearly forty years he has led the magazine’s political coverage and spearheaded its storied roundup of the Best and Worst Legislators each biennium. A lifelong Texan, he was born in Galveston, graduated from Rice University with a B.A. in history, and received a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Burka is a member of the State Bar of Texas and spent five years as an attorney with the Texas Legislature, where he served as counsel to the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Burka won a National Magazine Award for reporting excellence in 1985 and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and teaches at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a frequent guest discussing politics on national news programs on MSNBC, Fox, NBC, and CNN.

Articles by Paul Burka

The Modern World

Aug 4, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Wouldn’t it be nice if Texas were to catch up to the modern world, for once? I’m addressing the issue of same-sex marriage here. What’s the use of fighting for a policy that without question violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws? In fairness to Greg…

The Trouble With the Enterprise Fund

Jul 28, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Governor Perry’s decision to fund the opening of a new Charles Schwab office in El Paso (and another in Austin) is a classic example of what is wrong with the governor’s economic development funds. Charles Schwab is a national firm that needs no subsidy from the state to succeed. The…

National Guard Troops on the Border

Jul 21, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

It is one thing to institute a DPS “surge” on the border; it is quite another to send the National Guard there, a thousand strong, as Perry intends to do. What is the purpose of sending the Guard to the border? The National Guard is a military force. Is its…

The Perry Legacy: Richard Hyde Responds

Jul 16, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

In the July issue of the magazine, several writers—myself included—assessed the legacy of Governor Perry. One of the stories reviewed eight critical areas Texas Monthly believes the governor is responsible for, and we gave him a letter grade for each. Some readers thought we were too…

More on the UT Regents

Jul 11, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

I have generally been impressed by UT regents’ chair Paul Foster’s ability to smooth the waters concerning the Bill Powers controversy. But Foster was out of line when, a day after the University of Texas System announced that Powers would step down in June 2015 — ending a standoff…

The Story of Wallace Hall

Jul 10, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

My colleague Skip Hollandsworth has written a timely story for the upcoming August issue that was posted online this morning. Titled “Is This the Most Dangerous Man in Texas?” it’s about UT Regent Wallace Hall, the impeachment process, and the resignation of William Powers, the president of UT-Austin.

Asleep at the Switch

Jul 8, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Wendy Davis is asleep at the switch again. The Obama administration has opened a new front on the battle over Medicaid expansion. By 2016, says the White House, states that have adopted expansion will have saved $4.3 billion. In addition, expansion states would have experienced 3.3 million annual physicians’ visits,…

Your Friends and Contributors

Jun 24, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The list of recipients of Emerging Technology Fund grants in particular is replete with Perry’s longtime friends and campaign contributors. The Dallas Morning News has reported on who received some of these grants, and have contributed large sums to his campaigns. The list includes: •$2.75 million to Terrabon Inc.,…

Rick Perry on Homosexuality

Jun 13, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

I’m stunned that Rick Perry allowed himself to be drawn into a discussion of homosexuality in an appearance before the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, in the nation’s most gay-friendly city. I thought he was far too seasoned a politician to make that kind of blunder. Apparently not.

Notes from the Republican State Convention

Jun 4, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

A fight over immigration looms at the Republican state convention, which begins tomorrow in Fort Worth. This alert went out to Republicans attending the convention, from leaders opposed to immigration reform: “If you haven’t been paying attention, [Speaker] John Boehner and his “leadership” team (that includes Pete…

Perry and the Threat of a Special Session

Jun 3, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Rick Perry and the House appear to be on a collision course. The chatter is increasing around the Capitol that if the Transparency Committee continues on its course to impeach Wallace Hall, the governor will call the Legislature into a series of special sessions this summer, presumably on transportation. I…

Castro v. Patrick

Apr 16, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

I watched the debate on immigration between Dan Patrick and Julian Castro last night. Erica is also going to write about it today, but in my mind it didn’t really settle anything though it did raise a long-lingering issue. During the course of the debate, Patrick said that…

The Pre-K Wars

Apr 7, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

UPDATE: This post has been edited to correct errors related to the candidates’ position on pre-K and public education. I regret the error. Why does pre-K matter? The answer is that professional educators wouldn’t be so gung-ho about pre-kindergarten instruction unless they saw the huge value – both in terms…

The Lesson of School Finance

Apr 4, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The ongoing lawsuit regarding the state’s public school system is expected to come to a head in May, when Travis County district judge John Dietz could issue his ruling. The question is whether Texas’s funding of public schools is inadequate, and, therefore, violates the Texas constitution’s imprimatur in Article VII…

Five Races to Watch

Mar 3, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Here are five races that I’m watching with particular interest tomorrow that are part of an ongoing battle for control of the Republican party. Sarah Davis vs. Bonnie Parker Why it matters: This is a rematch of the 2010 primary, when Davis beat Parker 54-45. Davis is the only pro-choice…

The Texas Future Business Alliance

Feb 28, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

At long last, the business community seems to have awakened to the fact that there is an election going on. The Texas Future Business Alliance PAC has raised–wait for it–$112,000 to support members who favor infrastructure improvements. I wish I could celebrate the news, but the truth is that contributing…

Gay Marriage and the Governor’s Race

Feb 26, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Here is part of the text of the ruling issued by federal district judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio earlier today: “Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court…

Dan Branch v. Ken Paxton

Feb 26, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Gromer Jeffers of the Dallas Morning News has written a story that is fascinating indeed: four Republican lawmakers–all Christian conservatives–have fallen prey to what they claim is a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by a McKinney businessman who once claimed to have discovered Noah’s Ark. The politicians involved (Ken Paxton,…

Weakest GOP Field Ever?

Feb 26, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The candidates on the Republican ballot may compose the weakest ticket in terms of career accomplishments the Republican party has ever laid before voters. Take the race for comptroller: The four candidates (Harvey Hilderbran, Glenn Hegar, Debra Medina, Raul Torres) have thin resumes, Hilderbran excepted (he has been chairman of…

The UT/Texas Trib Poll

Feb 24, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll results today are not surprising. They show Greg Abbott with a hefty 47-36 lead over Wendy Davis in the race for governor, with 17 percent undecided. That lead is to be expected; of more concern for the Davis campaign should be their inability…