Politics
4:42 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Senate Finance Committee Eases Budget Cuts

A state senate committee approved a smaller cut in education spending in the new state budget.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News.

The Senate Finance Committee added $5.7 billion to its budget proposal today.  The adjustment was approved with a 13-2 vote.

Just yesterday, the House Appropriations committee $8 billion in education cuts.

In anticipation of the cuts in state support for education, school districts have already begun laying off teachers but legislators are still tinkering with measures that could avoid massive layoffs statewide.

Here’s a rundown of what’s included in the Senate proposal:

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Border
4:14 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Mexico's Security Spokesperson to Speak in Austin

Alejandro Poiré, Mexico's security spokesperson, will discuss his country's strategies for public safety at the LBJ School of Public Affairs Monday.
Photo by Ariel Gutierrez for the Mexican Federal Government, http://flickr.com/photos/30118979@N03/4944508417/

In response to public concerns toward Mexico facing a series of drug-related violence, Mexico’s security spokesperson, is coming to UT to discuss Mexico’s national strategies for public safety.  Alejandro Poiré, will speak at noon Monday at the Bass Lecture Hall of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Poiré will discuss ways Mexico is dealing with ongoing drug-related violence that threatens Americans who live along the border, as well as those who travel to Mexico.

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Politics
12:44 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Testimony Begins on State House Redistricting

Lawmakers are hard a work drawing new State House maps.
Map courtesy Texas Legislative Council

The House Redistricting Committee has begun taking testimony on what the state's new House district map should look like. Based on 2010 Census data it looks like rural West Texas is going to lose representation. While the population growth in South and Central Texas counties means those areas will gain a few seats.

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Politics
12:12 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Voter ID Clears the Texas House

A bill that would require voters to show ID at the polls is one step closer to the Governor's desk.
Photo by KUT News

After years of Republican attempts and procedural blocks by Democrats, a voter ID bill has passed the Texas House and Senate.  The bill passed the House on 3rd reading today on a 101-48 vote.  Today's debate and vote took just minutes, compared to the 11 hours the House spent debating amendments Wednesday.  The bill now goes back to the Senate.  That chamber can either agree with the House changes to the bill or ask for a conference committee to work out the differences.

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Education
9:39 am
Thu March 24, 2011

Austin ISD Wants Your Answers To The Budget Crisis Tonight

AISD wants public input on how to close its estimated $94 million budget gap without drastically affecting the quality of education at schools like Linder Elementary, pictured above.
Photo by KUT News

School districts across Texas are in the sticky situation of trying to calibrate their spending for the next year without knowing exactly how deeply the state will cut public education. The largest school district in Central Texas, Austin ISD, will hold the first of two public hearings tonight to seek public input on how it should manage a projected $94 million shortfall, even though a large portion of that deficit has already been slashed through the elimination of more than 1,100 jobs.

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News Brief
5:24 am
Thu March 24, 2011

Top Morning Stories March 24, 2011

The Texas House gave preliminary approval Wednesday night to a controversial voter ID bill.
Photo by Kut News

The Texas House Passes Voter ID

After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House gave initial approval to a voter ID bill last night.  It would require Texans to show a photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls.  Democrats used a variety of parliamentary procedures to delay the bill but didn't have the votes to stop it.  Democratic lawmakers say it would disenfranchise minority and elderly voters.  Republicans say it would protect the integrity of the voting system by preventing voter fraud. 

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Sports
3:10 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

Davis Cup Tennis, Anyone?

Austin will host a Davis Cup quarterfinal match between the U.S. and Spain this July
Photo courtesy flickr.com/shawnzrossi

Some of the world's greatest men's tennis stars will be in Central Texas this summer as Austin plays host to a Davis Cup quarterfinal match between the U.S. and Spain.

The matches will be held at the Frank Erwin Center the weekend of July 8-10, the weekend after the prestigious Wimbledon tennis championships end.

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Politics
1:51 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

Procedural Delays Mark Voter ID Debate

The vote ID bill is one step closer to the governor's desk.
Photo by KUT News

UPDATE, 11:07 p.m.:

After nearly 12 hours of debate, about a dozen "points of order" and more than 60 amendments the House has given initial approval of a voter ID bill.  The highly partisan bill has one more vote in the House before heading to a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.  Democrats have tried to block the bill for several years, saying it could lead to voter suppression among minority voters.  As the debate finally wrapped up Republicans had four of the party's Hispanic members speak in favor of the bill.

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Texas
12:47 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

Learn More About The Balcones Fault Line

Mount Bonnell Marker in Austin
Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

Japan Continues to deal with the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed whole towns, left more than ten thousand dead and crippled a nuclear facility in Fukushima.

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Politics
12:37 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

The Budget Bill Heads to the House

Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts will bring the budget to the floor on April 1st.
The Texas Tribune

The House Budget Bill is on its way to the full House for a vote.  

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Education
12:16 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

State Senators Encourage Education Cuts Outside The Classroom

State Senators are urging school districts to cut management jobs to save classroom quality.
Photo by e-magic http://www.flickr.com/photos/emagic/

Six Republican State Senators stood side by side this morning at the Capitol and proclaimed that the budget can be cut in Texas, even education, without affecting the classroom.  Senator Florence Shapiro says she has filed legislation that would make it easier for districts to relinquish themselves of administrative staff.

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News Brief
5:57 am
Wed March 23, 2011

Top Morning Stories March 23, 2011

Photo illustration by: Todd Wiseman, courtesy of the Texas Tribune.

Should School Districts Use Their Rainy Day Funds?

Under pressure to tap into the state's Rainy Day Fund, Governor Rick Perry said Texas school districts should dip into their own reserve accounts first.  Gov. Perry said districts have about $12 billion in reserve accounts.  Ross Ramsey, of our political reporting partner The Texas Tribune, has a report this morning saying that suggestion is not so simple. 

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Politics
4:57 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Michael Williams to Resign from Commission for Senate

Texas Rilroad Commissioner Micahel Williams announced that he will resign on April 2 for the 2012 Senate race.
Image Courtesy of Bexar Republican http://www.flickr.com/photos/bexarrepublican/

Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams told The Associated Press he’s planning to resign from his current position April 2 to enter the 2012 race for the U.S. Senate.

Williams started his career in the Commission in 1998 when he was appointed by then-Governor George W. Bush. His biography also introduces him as “the first African American in Texas history to hold an executive statewide elected post.”

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Arts and Culture
4:48 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

Pinetop Perkins Funeral Arrangements Announced

A funeral for blues legend Pinetop Perkins will be held Monday in Austin. He'll be buried April 1 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Photo by Carl Lender http://www.flickr.com/photos/43547797@N00

A public funeral for Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, the 97-year-old Grammy winning blues pianist who passed away in Austin on Monday from cardiac arrest, will be held on Monday, March 28 at Cook-Walden Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.  It will be followed by a celebration of life at Antone's Blues Club beginning at 8 p.m.

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Education
3:49 pm
Tue March 22, 2011

University of Texas Students Rally At Capitol

University of Texas students concerned about cuts to financial aid programs and skyrocketing tuition costs took to the streets this afternoon.

Dozens of people wearing “Invest in Texas” t-shirts and carrying handmade signs marched from the Student Activity Center to the Capitol, shouting slogans in support of higher education. 

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