The State of Texas: April 20, 2015
Images of the Day
If there’s one thing folks like taking social media photos of (after their kids, their pets, and their kids), it’s hail. Per the newish tradition after such a storm, people in North Texas flocked to the Internet over the weekend to show off the size of their balls of ice. Below is just one example, the hand model of which gets special recognition for presentation:
— Jasmine (@jazeyyy) April 19, 2015
In Poor Health – Texas is about to come down with a bad case of something. “Federal officials signaled last week they may no longer be willing to pay for uncompensated care for people who could be covered by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” reports the Houston Chronicle. Texas is stubbornly refusing to expand Medicaid, meaning the potential showdown “threatens to unravel the state’s health care safety net.” The numbers are rather staggering too: Texas could lose about $4 billion in funding if it refuses the Medicaid expansion. The Chronicle has a detailed look at the fight between the state and the federal government, but in the end, the prognosis is negative. “With six weeks left in the legislative session, there may be little time for lawmakers to find a compromise position that would appease the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’] insistence on coverage expansion yet still be palatable to Republicans in Austin.”
The Rundown – Next time Jerry Bruckheimer is looking for inspiration for a thrilling cop chase, he’ll have to look somewhere besides Texas. While the number of police-involved shootings receiving national attention grows by the day, Texas’s “relatively permissive DPS culture of use-of-force during pursuits” is under scrutiny, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The examples of in-state pursuits are numerous, including a high-speed takedown of a motorcyclist for a traffic violation and the time a “trooper flying over Hidalgo County fired his rifle out of a helicopter at the back wheel of a fleeing pickup.” Still, “the agency maintains the occasional use of firearms from vehicles remains necessary,” even as experts denounce the practice. In the police’s defense, this method of apprehension isn’t that common. “Texas troopers pull over between 2 million and 3 million motorists a year. Compared with those figures, the number of times they end up chasing drivers is small—about 900 a year.” But Texas troopers don’t give up the chase, calling off a pursuit only 3 percent of the time.
Bevo Bucks – The University of Texas’s athletic program is consistently named the wealthiest in the country. So it’s always interesting to see a breakdown of how this system works. The latest comes from the San Antonio Express-News with a look at UT’s corporate sponsorships, nineteen total that provide “$16.4 million in cash, products and services this year … multiyear agreements [that] add up to $98 million.” What’s perhaps even more jaw-dropping is that “corporate deals represent less than a tenth of the athletic department’s total revenues,” about $182 million a year, give or take a few million. Even then, the “value of UT’s sponsorships exceeded the 2013–14 total operating expenses of 100 different Division I athletic programs.” As the Express-News details comprehensively, the large profits universities pocket have long been criticized (especially the “student-athlete” part of that argument), and these public institutions of higher learning are actively fighting to prevent the public from learning about all the money and sponsorship information.
Turn Down for What? – All of Texas seemed to turn into the music capitol of the U.S. over the weekend, with some major (and varied) genres represented. Last night, of course, was the Academy of County Music Awards, in Arlington. Governor Greg Abbott and Jerry Jones came by—and the latter’s presence might explain why the show set a Guinness World Record for attendance. Among the highlights were King George’s performance of “All My Exes Live in Texas” (he was also given the Milestone Award). Down by the Gulf, a different kind of musical celebration took place with the Fiesta de la Flor (a.k.a. Selena-fest), in Corpus Christi. Despite the heavy storm, fans came in droves to the festival’s first-year kickoff, and tickets sold out almost immediately. It’s ironic, however, that the supposed music capitol of Texas couldn’t compete with the rest of the state. Austin’s yearly Reggae Fest had its final day canceled due to rain and wet grounds, because Austinites have become soft in their success.