Paul Burka's Profile Photo

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.

Politics & Policy |
February 21, 2013

Should the Gas Tax Be Increased?

Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) has proposed paying for highway construction by increasing the gasoline tax. Empower Texans' Michael Quinn Sullivan has slammed that idea, but he should explain why he believes is better to build highways with bonds than with taxes.

Politics & Policy |
February 19, 2013

Citizens Not So United?

A potential crack has opened in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. The Associated Press has reported that the Court will hear a challenge to campaign finance laws limiting how much an individual can give to political campaigns. The justices agreed to hear an appeal from an Alabama resident and

Burka Blog |
February 15, 2013

Hostile Regents on the March Against UT President

I spoke at length to an unimpeachable source in state government today who said developments this week have been unfavorable to Powers, who has been hounded for months by regents appointed by Rick Perry. For instance, regents unfriendly to Powers have reopened a review of the University of Texas Law School Foundation and

Politics & Policy |
February 12, 2013

The New Look of BurkaBlog

Since we launched the redesigned texasmonthly.com, I’ve received lots of feedback from my readers. Now that the editors have had a little bit of time to work through some of the kinks, I wanted to address some of your concerns. During the redesign we switched to a new commenting system

Politics & Policy |
February 11, 2013

Do the D’s Have a Shot at Cornyn?

On January 30, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, released a poll on the U.S. Senate race in Texas. Did someone just say, What U.S. Senate race in Texas? Well, PPP surveyed John Cornyn’s prospects of keeping his seat against four Democratic opponents. As PPP put it, most

Politics & Policy |
February 7, 2013

Opening Moves

Democrats have signaled their intention to offer an amendment to restore the education spending cuts made last session, which signals to everyone who is watching that the Democratic strategy is going to pretty much be this: make the Republicans pay for every bad vote.

Politics & Policy |
February 6, 2013

Charters v. PEG

As most readers know, one of the battles of the 83rd Legislature is likely to occur over the use of public funds for private schools. Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and Senator Dan Patrick are backing the proposal. (At a recent Texas Tribune event, Speaker Straus urged caution on the issue.) The

Politics & Policy |
February 5, 2013

UT (nervously) awaits next batch of Perry regents

From a statement by the Texas Exes, the university’s alumni association:The terms of three distinguished members of The University of Texas System Board of Regents expired this past Friday. These appointments will be made by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.* * * * If the new regents are anything like the

Politics & Policy |
February 4, 2013

School finance decision expected today

State district judge John Dietz is set to rule today following closing arguments in the school finance litigation. His decision could have huge ramifications for the state budget. It’s hard to argue that the state’s support for public education meets either the efficiency standard or the adequacy standard. The target

Politics & Policy |
February 3, 2013

Perry and Abbott: deal or no deal?

If so, what is it?Brad Watson of WFAA-TV in Dallas made big news with his report of a potential deal between Perry and Abbott. From the station’s website: In an exclusive WFAA interview Wednesday, [Jan. 31] Gov. Rick Perry said Attorney General Greg Abbott has told him he won’t

Politics & Policy |
January 31, 2013

State of the Website

Today marks another big step forward at Texas Monthly, thanks to the hard work of countless people on our staff (and countless late nights that turned into early mornings). We’re launching a new and vastly improved website, which I hope you’ll spend some time browsing. One of the

Politics & Policy |
January 31, 2013

BREAKING: House committee assignments

Well, today is the day that the Speaker’s honeymoon ends and the members’s complaints begin. Last session the Republicans held 25 chairs and the Democrats 10. This time around it’s Republicans 24 and Democrats 14. Of course, the Democrats picked up seats in the last election cycle, but I suspect

Politics & Policy |
January 30, 2013

Cornyn, Cruz oppose Kerry confirmation

The emergence of Ted Cruz has made life miserable for Minority Whip John Cornyn. Cruz constantly has the senior senator for Texas looking over his right shoulder. Cornyn voted against Kerry as secretary of state, as did Cruz, but it’s likely that he did so only to inoculate himself against

Burka Blog |
January 30, 2013

Not with a bang but a whimper

And so ends, for all practical purposes, the long Perry governorship. In an article I posted on Saturday, previewing the State of the State address, I asked, “Is it his last?” The tenor of his speech yesterday affirms that it is. Perry spoke mainly about the state he loves:

Politics & Policy |
January 24, 2013

“Battleground Texas”

I have long been a skeptic about the prospects for revitalization of the state Democratic party, but recent developments call for re-evaluation. For one thing, the new finance chair of the Democratic National Committee is Henry Munoz III, of San Antonio. Some of his fundraising is likely to benefit

Politics & Policy |
January 21, 2013

The way politics ought to be

I’m not a regular reader of RedState.com, but I was struck by the piece Erick Erickson posted late yesterday about President Obama and his second inauguration. The headline of the column is “The Loyal Opposition,” and I’d like to take the liberty of posting it here in its entirety:Congratulations

News & Politics |
January 21, 2013

2011: The Best and Worst Legislators

For the Eighty-second Legislature (our twentieth at the Capitol), everything old was new again: the state faced a budget deficit; the governor harbored presidential ambitions; the members of the Best list were hard to find; and the names on the Worst list picked themselves.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

Power

From H. Ross Perot to the people who will run Texas in the nineties, from couples with clout to the Brownwood Mafia, we present the most complete guide to power in Texas ever compiled.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

Right Place, Right Time

A year ago Rick Perry’s political future seemed to be in peril. Now he’s looking past the 2010 elections—and all the way to the White House. Think I’m kidding? How about a cup of tea?

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

Can Rick Perry Stand On His Own?

And just how long are his coattails? Texas politics is always interesting, but the 2002 election—with two formidable tickets, four big races, and a healthy debate over whether this is still a two-party state—promises to be one for the books.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

Oil and Water

The spill in the Gulf is just the latest in a string of catastrophic regulatory failures that prove how incompetent government is. And how important it is.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

The Bloody Billion

Oh, how our legislators are moaning and groaning as they try to cut the state budget. But we’ve slashed, chopped, trimmed, pared, and whittles our way through it—and save $1 billion. It wasn’t that hard. Really.

Business |
January 20, 2013

Life After Oil

Midland’s energy companies are still laying people off a decade after the bottom of the bust. But—surprise—the city’s economy is booming again.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

The Case Against John Cornyn

If it pleases the court, the question before you is whether the attorney general of Texas has served his constituents or, as his critics charge, only his own political interests. What is your verdict?