The State of Texas: March 6, 2015
Bigger In Texas Dept.
What’s the next best thing to actually being at The Alamo as the entire Texas force was brutally decimated? Why, a massive mural depicting the carnage, of course! A Georgia “Alamo artist” spent “3,500 hours over 14 months and $1,500 of his own money to paint the 8-by-15-foot work in his garage,” according to the Houston Chronicle. The mural is being billed as world’s largest Alamo painting. It’s available for viewing, by appointment only, at Alamo Beer Company.
Looking Presidential – Two Texans; two paths to the presidency; two time-honored attempts at groveling for support. Team Rick Perry has taken another step toward a presidential run with the creation of a super PAC, perfectly (i.e. meaninglessly and vaguely) named Opportunity and Freedom. The PAC was formed by a “handful of former aides and allies,” according to the Associated Press. “While the Opportunity and Freedom PAC cannot legally coordinate with a prospective presidential campaign, its chairmen include two of Perry’s former chiefs of staff who are based in Texas.” The “bulk of the group’s funding would come from Texas, and that the organization would publicly disclose all donors and spending as required by law.” While Team Perry is going after the money, Team Ted Cruz, meanwhile, is taking the public perception route. In the time honored tradition of potential candidates releasing a self-aggrandizing autobiography full of vague policy positions (both parties are guilty of this), Ted Cruz will release A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Miracle of America, in June. The book, for which Cruz received a reported seven-figure deal, will “tell his story and share his message of free markets and constitutional liberties,” writes the AP. Cruz said “the themes of a possible White House candidacy are ‘certainly reflected in this book.’”
Border Wars – The states fighting President Barack Obama’s immigration order are digging in even deeper. After a temporary stay was ordered by the presiding Texas judge, the Obama Administration asked earlier this week that a decision be made regarding the hold-up. Meanwhile, the states, led by Texas, are demanding more information. In a motion filed yesterday, “the state’s attorneys argue that in discussions with the court leading up to [the judge’s] decision, the Obama administration said it would not begin accepting applications for the program until February,” according to the Texas Tribune. “But in an advisory filed on Tuesday by the White House’s own attorneys, they stated that between Nov. 24 and Feb. 16, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services granted about 100,000 three-year deferred action requests. The state argues that the administration misled the court.” Closer to the action, the DPS is a little closer in their vast funding effort as the Texas House Appropriations Committee (tentatively) approved $105 million. “The money would go toward training 300 new officers and support staff,” writes the Tribune, but despite being a mere drop of the proposed $2.2 million for border security, “it was still met with some resistance from border lawmakers who questioned how and where the officers would be deployed.” What should probably also be a concern, seeing as Texas has a habit of giving sweetheart deals, is who’s gonna make a profit. The Austin American-Statesman has a nice reminder that one security firm made “$20 million over six years through a series of emergency and other no-bid contracts related to border security.” Investigated before, Senator Jose Rodriguez is calling for the contracts to be re-examined via a Public Integrity Unit investigation.
Boom Town – For a good, long while, list after list has come out putting various parts of Texas at the top of “Most” and “Best” economic/prosperity/living rankings. The lists often come from business magazines or companies trying to sell something (looking at you, Nerd Wallet). But nothing says official like the Census Bureau, and yesterday it announced the country’s boomingest post-recession town. The winner? Austin. By, like, a mile. Between 2010 and 2013, the city’s population growth was 12 percent. Charlotte, North Carolina, the second boomingest town, came in 8.4 percent. As Slate notes, “It’s not much of a mystery why Austin has fared so well. The city was only lightly affected by the recession, thanks in part to the fact that Texas was generally spared a housing bust, and its local economy is anchored by a state government, a massive university, and a tech scene.” The entire state, too, is about to really boom. According to the state demographer, Texas’s population is set to double by 2050. Even though that might sound like a distant future, that’s really only 35 years away. “The increase will be mostly due to people moving here and that’s “substantially alter the future age structure of Texas,” according to the report.