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jim pitts

The Retirement of Jim Pitts

Aug 26, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The retirement of Jim Pitts from the House of Representatives is a sad day. Pitts, who was named a Best this past session, was one of the original eleven Republicans who met to choose a new speaker in 2009 to succeed Tom Craddick. That speaker, of…

Power Company

Jan 20, 2013 By Paul Burka, Patricia Hart and Nate Blakeslee

As we head into the most critical legislative session in decades—maybe ever—the question is not just, Who are the people with the most clout at the Capitol? It’s also, What do they want?

R.G.’s Take: What the Lean House Budget Bill Means for State Employees

Mar 28, 2011 By R.G. Ratcliffe

(Editor’s note: Every week, for the remainder of the legislative session, BurkaBlog will be publishing an original column by R.G. Ratcliffe, who was the state political reporter for the Houston Chronicle for twenty years. During those two decades, I’ve known R.G., who resigned from the Chronicle in February to work on a book, to be one of the most trusted voices in the Capitol press corps. I’m thrilled to have him posting here. His columns will offer a deeper take on one of the week’s top stories. –P.B.) This session’s budget crunch has turned into a twisted episode of "The Biggest Loser," the reality television show in which overweight contestants compete to see who can lose the most weight. At the Capitol, the question is, which parts of our state budget will lose the most money in the plans being floated to bridge the $27 billion shortfall. Who will be our biggest loser? Most of the attention has been on teachers, children, and the elderly in nursing homes. Rallies at the capitol and heavy coverage on the nightly news about the impending disaster these groups could face from state cuts have put them at the forefront of the debate. But as the House prepares to vote on a bare bones available-revenue-only proposal next week, there’s another, more often overlooked contestant on the show—Texas’ 154,000 state employees, many of whom could face effective wage cuts of up to 40 percent under current Texas budget plans. Who are these folks? Well, they are child protection caseworkers, prison guards, tax auditors and rank and file bureaucrats. They work for the government. In a staunchly fiscal conservative, Tea Party world, these employees are often viewed skeptically.

Straus names budget conferees; Dunnam wins instruction for public meetings

Apr 27, 2009 By Paul Burka

No big surprise: Pitts, Raymond, Otto, McClendon, Zerwas. Dunnam moved to instruct the conferees to meet publicly, in accordance with House rules. The motion was adopted without objection. I asked Chisum, the previous chair, what he thought the Senate would do. “Pend everything,” he said. Too bad. It was high…

Let the speculation begin

Jan 19, 2009 By Paul Burka

Committee appointments will be the first real test of the Straus speakership. How many of the 149 members can he satisfy? Here are some of the problems he will face: —Straus has said that there will be no retaliation against Craddick loyalists. Good luck in keeping that promise. The ABCs…

The speaker’s race: Update

Dec 28, 2008 By Paul Burka

The long Christmas weekend is about over. Keep an eye on the Ethics Commission tomorrow (Monday) for new filings for speaker. Gattis is a possibility. McCall is a possibility. It was this time last year that he filed. I talked to one of the ABC’s on Saturday. He said that…