News Room

Wild Iris at <a href="">Lady Bird Lake</a>, Austin in April

Wild Iris at Lady Bird Lake, Austin in April

News Archive

The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged
March 4, 2010

No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists, who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.

Political moneyman Bob Perry ordered to pay $51 million
March 1, 2010

A jury has ordered Houston homebuilder Bob Perry to pay $51 million to a retirement-age Mansfield couple who fought for a decade over a defective house that Perry Homes refused to fix. Perry is the biggest campaign contributor in Texas and a major figure in tort reform championed by Gov. Rick Perry (no relation) to limit lawsuits and cap jury awards against business. Bob and Jane Cull say Perry wouldn't fix their house and so went to arbitration, where they won an $800,000 judgment. The homebuilder refused to pay. He appealed for years through the court system to the Texas Supreme Court, which overturned two lower courts and sent the case back to district court in Fort Worth. Every member of the high court had each received contributions from Perry -- more than $260,000 from Perry, his family and his political committees.

Letter to the Editor
February 28, 2010

Hi Guys:

Here’s a great piece by SAEN. All of these cuts will most massively affect—you guessed it—El Paso.

Massive cuts were predicted by your humble Senator when he called the Craddick//Perry tax scheme a “Giant Texas Tax Shift”. Swapping property taxes that fund schools, for risky business income taxes that have never been collected, resulted in exactly what we predicted—additional property tax burdens to El Paso homeowners mostly at schools struggling so hard to keep class size down---all because state leaders flunked the test of solving school finance in Austin.

From the Senator's Desk. . .
March 4, 2010

"The Model Red State"

Texas ranks last among the states in the share of the population without health insurance, one-fifth of our children are impoverished, and we have among the lowest rates of educational attainment in the nation. So, why are right-wing economists, talk-show hosts and politicians hell-bent on painting Texas as the poster child for successful fiscal policy? One economist went so far as to suggest that the U.S. economy should start performing “more like Texas.”

The Buck Stops Where?
February 24, 2010

The attack ad could write itself: On Gov. Rick Perry’s watch, Texas weathered a sexual abuse scandal at the Texas Youth Commission, fight clubs at state institutions for the disabled and deaths of kids monitored byChild Protective Services.

Hispanics at forefront of ‘The Texas Dropout Epidemic,’ Sen. Elliot Shapleigh says
February 24, 2010

With the skyrocketing population of Hispanics in Texas also leading in the number of high school dropouts, many lawmakers are worried that the future workforce of Texas will be less educated, earning lower wages and salaries then the present workforce – which may have a negative impact on future economic resources.

The Bankruptcy Boys
February 25, 2010

O.K., the beast is starving. Now what? That’s the question confronting Republicans. But they’re refusing to answer, or even to engage in any serious discussion about what to do.

TX-Gov: Rick Perry Defends His Dirty Texas With Frivolous Legal Action
February 16, 2010

Key Point: Perry simply wants to nationalize his election with lofty rhetoric that are short on facts so that everyone can ignore the decade of failure he has pushed down Texas. The question is: Will Texas voters (and the Texas press corps) let him get away with it?

From The Senator's Desk. . .
February 25, 2010

Patient A

What about this town hall in Washington D.C.? How does health care work in El Paso, Texas? Let's take the case of Patient A.

Half a century ago, El Paso boasted several not-for-profit hospitals. In 1950, Hotel Dieu broke ground for a 270-bed hospital. In 1952, Providence Memorial Hospital opened its doors with 272 beds. In 1959, voters approved a 335-bed facility to be run by the hospital district (now known as University Medical Center).

How Christian Were the Founders?
February 12, 2010

LAST MONTH, A WEEK before the Senate seat of the liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy fell into Republican hands, his legacy suffered another blow that was perhaps just as damaging, if less noticed. It happened during what has become an annual spectacle in the culture wars.

Traffic ticket surcharge is lousy public policy
February 5, 2010

The Texas program of slapping state surcharges on driver violations is bad public policy in so many ways it's hard to know where to start.

State Medicaid program might need an additional $8B to $10B next session
February 17, 2010

HHS Exec Commissioner Tom Suehs lays out the grim numbers spurred by lapse of federal stimulus money and double digit caseload growth rates

As if lawmakers weren’t facing enough challenges in the upcoming legislative session, the head of the state’s social services agency said that budget writers might have to come up with an added $8 billion to $10 billion just to maintain current services in the state Medicaid program.

Perry sues EPA
February 16, 2010

Texas, which leads U.S. states in carbon dioxide emissions due to its heavy concentration of oil refining and other industries, will see a major impact if U.S. mandatory emissions reductions take effect.

State Assembly passes payday lending measure
February 16, 2010

The state Assembly approved a bill to clamp down on payday lenders Tuesday, just as Speaker Mike Sheridan (D-Janesville) disclosed he had stopped dating a payday loan lobbyist after taking criticism for the relationship.

Pawnshop zoning push miffs Fort Worth councilwoman
February 17, 2010

Fort Worth Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks says she is angry that the City Council is considering a zoning-change request by the pawnshop industry that would allow pawnshops to rebuild in the event of a fire or natural disaster.

From the Senator's Desk. . .
February 11, 2010

Fellow Paseños--

National Public Radio had a great story on “ASARCO—the Toxic Century” The best line was now, “El Paso can begin to look to the future.”

Making the Grade
February 11, 2010

The future of Texas depends on our greatest resource—namely Texans. If we educate Texans to compete for good jobs in the 21st Century, we win. If we don’t, we lose. So, are we winning?

The Select Commission on Higher Education and Global Competitiveness, created by a resolution sponsored by our office, recently released a report that bluntly states:

Grover's Tub: Worth The Fight
February 11, 2010

For 15 years, from Bush to Perry, the Grover formula has given tax cuts to the wealthy and delivered budget cuts to you.

The debt trap of payday loans
February 11, 2010

Karen Young from Lawrenceburg borrowed less than $200 from a payday lender to cover her musician husband’s transportation expenses. She repaid it in two weeks but it didn’t stop there. She still needed cash. She wrote a new check to take out a new loan. She got caught in a cycle.The cycle went on for 18 months. Payday loans didn’t help Karen hold off a crisis. They added to her debts.

The Last Time Around
February 10, 2010

Texas lawmakers are expecting to find a hole in the state budget — anywhere from $11 billion to $17 billion, maybe even more — when they return to Austin a year from now. That’s the worst forecast since 2003, when they responded to a $10 billion shortfall with cuts in major programs and hikes in various fees. “[They] had a very tough time, and they managed it," says Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs, the state's chief financial officer. [In 2011] I am expecting the Legislature, with 181 smart men and women, to come up with something.”