Politics
9:45 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Comptroller Projects State Revenue Will Be $72.2 Billion

Image by Dave Burnstein for KUT News

Texas comptroller Susan Combs estimates the state will generate $72.2 billion to spend on the 2012-2013 state budget. That's $5.6 billion less than the nearly $77.8 billion the state was certified to spend last legislative session two years ago. (Read the revenue estimate report here.)

The Comptroller says the state will bring in $76.5 billion over all, but Texas is already $4.3 billion behind on its current budget. The difference amounts to $72.2 billion.

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News Brief
5:49 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Top Morning Stories January 10, 2011

Today is the first day of Tom DeLay's resentencing hearing.

DeLay's Sentencing Hearing Starts Today


Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be back in an Austin courtroom.  His sentencing hearing starts this morning.  DeLay was convicted in November on money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges.  Those charges were in connection to the 2002 Texas elections.  DeLay faces up to life in prison but his attorneys are asking for probation.


Texas Comptroller Announcing Revenue Estimate

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Austin
11:16 am
Sun January 9, 2011

Sunday News Roundup For January 9, 2010

US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (right) speaking to a constituent at a Congress On Your Corner event in May 2010. Giffords was critically wounded yesterday at an event in Tuscon. Six people were killed including a federal judge and a 9-year-old.
Image courtesy Gabrielle Giffords' Congressional website.

All the papers lead today with the biggest national story of the weekend, a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona that killed six people, including a federal judge, and critically wounded US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Some of the most comprehensive coverage can be found from news organizations with the biggest newsrooms such as the New York Times (including their slideshow of images from the scene), NPR, the Washington Post, CNN, and the LA Times.  But it’s also worth browsing coverage from local news outlets that often have more contacts within the city and state than national media. Check out coverage from the Tuscon Citizen, the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic, and Arizona TV stations KMSB,  KOLD,  KVOA, KGUN, KNXV and KPHO.

KUT News sought local reaction from Texas lawmakers last night, and spoke on the phone with US Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) and US Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin). We also talked to a friend of Giffords’, Austin philanthropist Marc Winkelman, who told us Giffords “loves Austin" and has visited the city half-a-dozen times over the past five years.

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Politics
4:43 pm
Sat January 8, 2011

Texas Lawmakers React To Shooting Of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Texas lawmakers are offering words of condolence and issuing calls for justice in the wake of a shooting in Tuscon, AZ that killed five people, including a federal judge, and critically wounded US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Image courtesy US Congress

Updated at 6:44 pm: Texas lawmakers are reacting with shock to a shooting in Tuscon, AZ that killed at least five people including US District Judge John Roll and critically injured US Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  NPR reports the suspected gunman has been taken into custody.

Giffords, who was re-elected to a third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

The suspect fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said. A congressional official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the gunman was using an automatic weapon.

US Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) was with Giffords the day before the shooting to discuss the healthcare repeal.  

"You know what she was doing is basically the same thing I do on a regular basis throughout Central Texas," Doggett told KUT News in a phone interview.

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Austin
3:36 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Police Arrest 72-Year-Old Man Accused Of Trafficking 244 Heroin Balloons

72-year-old Robert Ramos Perez was arrested this afternoon and charged with trafficking heroin.
Image courtesy Austin Police Department

We don't often hear about heroin busts from the Austin Police Department. But today APD tells about the arrest of 72-year-old Robert Ramos Perez. He was taken into custody around 1:30 this afternoon on the 5600 block of Westgate Boulevard.

APD say Perez was carrying 244 balloons or 91 grams of heroin. The estimated street value, according to police, is $5,000.

Perez is charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance, a First Degree Felony in Texas.  Click on the image above to see pictures of the alleged heroin.

Sports
2:47 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Dennis Franchione 2011 Texas State Head Football Coach

Dennis Franchione Left His Last Coaching Job at Texas A&M in 2007
Denny Medley US Presswire

Texas State has hired Dennis Franchione as its next head football coach.  Franchione has been out of the game for three years. His last coaching position was as head coach at Texas A&M.  Before that, Franchione spent time at Alabama and TCU.  Texas State’s former head coach, Brad Wright, was fired on November 22nd.

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Politics
2:35 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

On Monday, We Find Out How Much Money Texas Has Until 2013

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It's one of the most eagerly awaited events in Texas politics: on Monday, state comptroller Susan Combs will provider her revenue estimate. It's a projection of how much money the state will have to spend over the next 2012-13 biennium.

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Texas
1:51 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

DPS Makes More Than 1,100 Holiday DWI Arrests, 35 Percent Increase

Image courtesy Texas Department of Public Safety

The Texas Department of Public Safety says it arrested 1,106 impaired drivers over the holidays.  That's a 35 percent increase over last year's 818 arrests.

DPS partially credits a Texas Department of Transportation grant targeting high risk locations for the increase.  Of this year's arrests, 442 were made in areas where drunken driving accidents were statistically more likely to occur.

The $2 million grant will fund increased patrols throughout 2011, meaning more troopers will be on patrol during Spring Break, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

Austin
12:38 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Appeals Court Says State Can't Challenge Travis County Lesbians' 2010 Divorce

Image courtesy bloomsberries http://www.flickr.com/photos/fabliaux/

A Travis County lesbian couple who were married in Massachusetts cannot have their divorce blocked by Attorney General Greg Abbott, Texas' 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled today.  (Read the decision here.)

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Willingham
12:30 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

State Panel Reviews Willingham Case

Fire expert Craig Beyler testifies before the Texas Forensics Science Commission on Friday reviewing the Cameron Todd Willingham.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

A state panel in Austin has been hearing today from fire experts about the high profile Cameron Todd Willingham arson conviction.  Willingham was convicted and put to death for setting the fire that killed his three daughters in 1991.  He was executed in 2004, But some experts have said the conviction was based on bad science. 

The Texas Forensic Science Commission reviewed the science that was used in the investigation and whether or not investigators were negligent. KUT's Matt Largey is covering panel.

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Education
11:58 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Texas School Districts Ready For Cuts From 2011 Legislative Session

Image courtesy Jonathan Pobre http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnny/

The Texas Education Agency isn't the only organization bracing for cuts to education spending as lawmakers look to rein in a budget gap that could exceed $25 billion.  School districts are also girding for what they dread will be severe cuts to public education.

Round Rock ISD has enacted a hiring freeze, as we reported yesterday.  

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News Brief
6:07 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Top Morning Stories January 7, 2011

A state panel is reviewing the Cameron Todd Willingham arson case today.
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall/via Flickr

Willingham Case Back in the Spotlight

A state panel in Austin today will hear from fire experts on the high-profile Cameron Todd Willingham arson case.  Willingham was convicted and put to death for an arson-ruled fire that killed his three daughters in 1991.  Some experts say the conviction was based on bad science.  The Texas Forensic Science Commission is examining the fire science used in the case, and how scientific practices have changed since the 90s. 

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Education
4:36 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Round Rock ISD Enacts Hiring Freeze

Image courtesy Forty Two http://www.flickr.com/photos/samxf42/

The Round Rock Independent School District says it is implementing a hiring freeze in anticipation of budget cuts in the upcoming Texas legislative session.

In a release today, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Dr. Jesús. H. Chávez said the district is reducing spending by at least five percent - or about $17 million - in preparation for the cuts in state education.

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Politics
3:45 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Dan Neil Lawyers Reviewing Travis County Election Documents

Lawyers for Dan Neil reviewing election documents at the Travis County Clerk's Office. Neil subpoenaed the documents in his bid to overcome a narrow 12 vote loss in Austin's House District 48.
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Republican candidate who lost to State Representative Donna Howard in Austin's House District 48 has subpoenaed documents from the Travis County Clerk's Office. Dan Neil's lawyers are reviewing them today.

Mary Faro, a spokesperson for County Clerk Dana Dana DeBeauvoir, said attorneys from Howard's camp were there observing. She said the subpoena (posted below) commanded the Election's Office to provide documents locked in a closet that can only be unlocked by the County Sheriff.

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Austin
11:54 am
Thu January 6, 2011

City of Austin Launches Online Survey About Downtown Parking

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The City of Austin is holding a public forum next Tuesday evening in the hopes of finding out what you think about extending parking meter hours. But if you can't make that public forum, you should register your opinion on the city's online survey.

ity Council is considering extending the hours you must pay for street parking downtown from 8 a.m. until midnight. Currently, meters are active between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The proposal would also extend meter hours city-wide from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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