Quote of the Day
“Well, I’ve been married to him for 15 years, and I know pretty well who he is, so it doesn’t bother me at all. There’s a lot of garbage out there.”
—Heidi Cruz to Yahoo! News, when asked what her reaction was to rumors that her husband, Ted, is the Zodiac Killer. As Gawker noted, this wasn’t exactly a firm denial of the allegations that Ted Cruz = Zodiac Ted.
Extended Stay—Federal Medicaid money will keep streaming into Texas for another fifteen months after President Barack Obama’s administration and the state agreed to extend the $29 billion healthcare program that started five years ago and has since served as a “safety net” for hospitals to provide coverage for poor, uninsured Texans, the Texas Tribune reported. According to the Austin American-Statesman, healthcare providers in Texas were thrilled that the program will live to see another day, as the alternative was basically nothing good. The federal government has pushed Texas to expand its own Medicaid program, but that’s been a hopeless pursuit since state leaders are about as anti-Obamacare as humanly possible. Instead, the state plans to use the extension to continue to negotiate another, even longer extension. It’s unclear if the federal cash flow will ever dry up, but this new deal at least delays what will likely be a “contentious” and possibly litigious debate over Medicaid in Texas, The Hill says.
STAAR Thudded—Despite STAAR tests receiving an “F” for failure from 50 superintendents across the state, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath says the test results are still A-OK. According to the Dallas Morning News, Morath called the standardized test’s systemic problems “unacceptable,” (there were technological glitches that wiped out answers for more than 14,000 students, tests included questions with no right answers, and test packets delivered to the wrong districts), but he maintains the results are totally legit; the only tests that will be excluded from the statewide ratings system used to evaluate classroom success are the ones that were totally vaporized by computer problems. So there’s that, at least. According to the Morning News, Morath’s public vote of confidence came on the same day that the newspaper obtained emails from Educational Testing Services, which is contracted with administering the tests, indicating that the vendor had to “scramble” at the last minute to train 900 graders for the written part of the test. Meanwhile, another round of statewide STAAR testing starts this week.
Bathroom Break—A proposed ordinance in Rockwall that would have forced transgender people to use public restrooms based on the gender that’s listed on their birth certificate failed Monday night. According to WFAA, the bathroom bill, similar to the hugely controversial state laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi, was the first of its kind to be officially suggested in Texas. Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt introduced the bill before city council on Monday, but his item went wholly unsupported by the five council members present—for most of the council members, the objection was not one of moral outrage at the discriminatory policy, but rather because the law would be impossible to enforce, according to WFAA. The council debated the bathroom bill before a packed chamber for more than three hours as demonstrators marched outside. More than 30 residents took to the podium beforehand to express their strong opinions about bathrooms. According to the Dallas Morning News, most were against the proposal. Of course, this is only the beginning of bathroom-related bills in Texas. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick recently indicated that a statewide bathroom bill will likely be introduced next time the state Lege meets.