Education
11:28 am
Fri February 25, 2011

Austin School Trustees To Vote Monday On Financial Exigency

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen appears in a YouTube video posted by the district this week explaining the dire budget situation.

Austin school board members will be asked to vote Monday night on a resolution that would declare the district to be in a state of "financial exigency", or "financial emergency" in common English. Such a move would grant more flexible staffing powers to Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who has proposed laying off more than 1,000 people to help close the school district's budget deficit, currently estimated to be in the neighborhood of $94 million.

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News Brief
6:12 am
Fri February 25, 2011

Top Morning Stories February 25, 2011

Officials at Texas jails worry that proposed state budget cuts to mental health services will mean more mentally ill inmates.
Image courtesy Texas Tribune/Todd Wiseman

Mental Health Cuts May Strain Jails

Brandi Grissom, of KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, has a write up this morning about how proposed mental health cuts would strain local jails:

As lawmakers consider funding cuts to deal with the state's massive budget shortfall, local officials across Texas are concerned that proposed reductions in community-based mental health treatment will mean more mentally ill Texans are likely to end up on the streets, in emergency rooms and behind bars, where it will cost local taxpayers even more to care for them 

 

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Austin Police
3:32 pm
Thu February 24, 2011

APD Officer Not Indicted in October Shooting

An Austin Police Officer was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in connection with an October shooting
Image by KUT News

A Travis County Grand Jury voted not to indict an Austin police officer in connection with the fatal shooting of a teen in South Austin last fall.

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Texas
12:58 pm
Thu February 24, 2011

Saudi Resident Arrested in Lubbock

FBI agents arrested a 20-year orld Saudi Arabia citizen in Lubbock Wednesday afternoon.
Image Courtesy of Jason Lawrence http://www.flickr.com/photos/27665395@N05/3559722809/

A 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student residing in Lubbock was arrested late Wednesday and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The Justice Department says Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a student at South Plains College, was accused of purchasing chemicals to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and conducting online research of potential targets inside the United States.

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Politics
11:13 am
Thu February 24, 2011

Texas Advice To Lawmakers On The Lam in IN, WI

Van de Putte and other senators stayed in New Mexico for more than a month
picture courtesy Sen. Van de Putte

Man...I had a GREAT idea for a story on Texas Lawmakers giving advice to lawmakers in Wisconsin and Indiana who are dealing with legislative walkouts.  BUT - Sam Stein over at the Huffington Post beat me to it (by a week...darn it!).  You may remember in 2003 Democrats in the Texas House fled to Okl

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News Brief
6:06 am
Thu February 24, 2011

Top Morning Stories February 24, 2011

The space shuttle Discovery is seen shortly after the Rotating Service Structure was rolled back at launch pad 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011.
Photo and caption courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls

Discovery Launching Final Time Without Austin Astronaut

All eyes will be on the sky on this historic day for space flight.  Austin Astronaut Timothy Kopra is not taking part in Discovery’s final flight.  Kopra suffered injuries from a bicycle accident last month.  NASA replaced him with another astronaut for the mission.  Discovery’s launching this afternoon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Report: Border Apprehensions Down

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Austin
4:23 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

ACC Welcomes First African-American in Space

Dr. Guy Bluford spoke on his four space explorations at ACC
Photo by Mario Carrillo of KUT News

The first African-American to fly aboard the Space Shuttle was in Austin today.

In honor of Black History Month, Austin Community College invited Dr. Guy Bluford to speak to ACC students and community members today.  He talked about his experiences of traveling to space and his work on the International Space Station. After his talk, Bluford talked to KUT News about the Space Shuttle's pending retirement.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

House Committee Holds Sonogram Bill Hearing

The House State Affairs Committee is hearing testimony on the sonogram bill.
Photo Courtesy of KUT News

The House State Affairs Committee is taking invited testimony on a bill that would require women considering an abortion to receive a sonogram and have a doctor explain what they're seeing.

The bill, authored by Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), is similar to a bill already passed by the Senate. 

Becky Turner, a woman who had an abortion over 25 years ago, agrees with the bill.

"I'm hoping that you guys also consider it important and valuable enough to tell others, what's inside the womb. Because we can't see it," Turner said.

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Education
2:35 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

UT Facing $100 Million Budget Cut Next School Year

UT could face a $100 million budget cut for 2012-2013 school year.
Image by Liang Shi for KUT News

Hard times may be coming to The University of Texas at Austin, based on projected spending cuts from the Legislature.

UT President Bill Powers told the campus that budget items in both the House and Senate versions of the 2012-2013 biennial budget cut funding to the school by $100 million.  Since 2009, UT has cut $14.5 million from its budget in response to state mandates, with the cuts primarily made to administrative operations.  Powers is scheduled to testify before the Senate Finance Ccommittee about higher education spending March 2.

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Transportation
1:59 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

Parts of Highways 130 & 45 Toll Free This Weekend

Traffic on I-35 could be a headache this weekend, because of work at Ben White Blvd. So TxDOT is making parts of the toll road network toll-free this Saturday to relieve the stress.
Image by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Texas Department of Transportation will waive tolls on segments of SH 130 and SH 45 this Saturday, while crews shut down I-35 at the Ben White Freeway (SH-71).

Tolls won't be collected on SH 45 Southeast, SH 130 and a portion of SH 45 North, near Round Rock and Pflugerville between 6:00 a.m. Saturday and 6:00 a.m. Sunday, according to TxDOT spokesman John Hurt. 

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Austin
11:45 am
Wed February 23, 2011

Gas Tops $3.00 a Gallon in Central Texas

Fuel prices cross the $3 per gallon mark in Central Texas.
Image by Eric Reyna for KUT News

Fuel prices are giving Central Texas drivers some gas pains again.

The Triple-A's "Fuel Gauge Report" puts the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded just under $3.02.  That's about it's about three cents cheaper than the statewide average.

Drivers who use diesel are being hit even harder, with that fuel running an average of $3.44 a gallon.

News Brief
6:03 am
Wed February 23, 2011

Top Morning Stories February 23, 2011

Graphic by Jacob Villanueva, courtesy of the Texas Tribune

Poll Shows Growing Support for Casinos in Texas

A majority of Texas voters are ready for full blown casinos in the state.  That's according to a new poll by UT and our political reporting partner The Texas Tribune. 

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AISD
4:27 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

AISD Adds to Job Cuts

Another 92 positions will be eliminated to recover the school district's 2011-12 financial shortfall.
Photo by KUT News

The Austin Independent School District has proposed cutting an additional 92 jobs, bringing to 1,104 the number of jobs that could be cut to close an expected budget shortfall.  AISD is bracing for a budget gap that could range from $94 million to $113 million.

"It’s hard to say exactly what the shortfall is, but when you have such a large percentage of your operation’s cost being paying for people, you’re not left with a lot of choices,” Trustee Robert Schneider told KUT News.

Texas
3:39 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

"Double-Dipping" Bill Filed in Legislature

A Fort Worth Republican lawmaker proposes bill aimed at tightening some campaign spending rules.
Image by KUT News

State Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), filed today an bill that takes aim at double-dipping by  Texas politicians.

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Education
3:06 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

BBB Warns of Bogus Financial Aid Assistance

The Better Business Bureau is warning students and parents about potentially-shady financial aid schemes.
Image by KUT News

As students and parents struggle to fill out the FAFSA form to pay for college next year, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of some companies offering scholarship or financial aid money. The businesses reportedly claim that they will be able to provide help in securing some scholarships and potential financial aid. Last year, the BBB received nearly 400 complaints nationwide from students and parents by scholarship and financial aid companies.

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