Becca Aaronson, Texas Tribune

Texas Tribune Reporter

Becca Aaronson develops data interactives and reports for The Texas Tribune. After an internship in fall 2010, she was hired by the Tribune to help cover the 82nd legislative session. She previously interned at the Houston Chronicle. Becca is a native of Austin who graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., with a degree in cultural theory.

baaronson@texastribune.org
512-716-8615

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Health
9:55 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Texas Democrats See Path to Medicaid Expansion

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Despite Gov. Rick Perry’s firm opposition to a key tenet of federal health reform — expanding the state’s Medicaid program for those with low incomes — Texas Democrats remain optimistic that the 2013 legislative session can yield a deal that brings in billions in additional federal dollars.

It will be a tough sell: No Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting the Medicaid expansion, which would add an estimated 1.8 million Texans onto the joint state-federal health plan by 2022.

But state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said fiscal conservatives have an incentive to reach an agreement “because the alternative is going to cost us much more economically and dig a much deeper hole in our budget.”

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2012 Election
2:54 pm
Sun November 11, 2012

Updated: Canseco Concedes CD-23 to Gallego

Pete Gallego and Francisco "Quico" Canseco
Jennifer Whitney, Texas Tribune

Update, Nov. 9, 2:30 p.m.:

U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco conceded the Congressional District 23 race on Friday. He congratulated state Rep. Pete Gallego, while renewing allegations that voter fraud skewed the results.

“While there is no doubt there were improperly counted votes and improperly cast ballots, a full investigation and recount would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming,” Canseco said in a statement.

Original Post: In the aftermath of a close and costly campaign for Congressional District 23, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco has alleged voter fraud and is not conceding to his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Pete Gallego. Gallego finished 9,222 votes ahead of Canseco as of Wednesday morning.

“The race is not over, and it won't be until all votes are properly and legally counted," Canseco said in a statement the morning after the election.

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Women's Health
7:25 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Planned Parenthood to Remain in Women's Health Program

Pete Schaekken, the lawyer representing Planned Parenthood speaks to the press.
Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Planned Parenthood will continue participating in the Women’s Health Program — for now. Travis County District Judge Stephen Yelenosky on Thursday approved a temporary injunction to delay the state’s implementation of the “Affiliate Ban Rule,” which would bar the nonprofit from participating in the program, until a full trial can be held in December.

Planned Parenthood is "likely to prevail on their claim that the rule is inconsistent with the instructions of the Texas
Legislature," wrote Yelenosky in a letter authorizing the temporary injunction. 

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Health
12:47 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Texas Women's Health Program Won't Launch As Planned

October 31st, 2012: TribLive event with Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The Texas Women’s Health Program that excludes clinics like Planned Parenthood that are affiliated with abortion providers will not launch on Thursday as the state planned.

Despite comments Wednesday morning from Texas Health and Human Services Commission executive director Kyle Janek indicating the program would be ready to start on Nov. 1, an agency spokeswoman confirmed that the state-led program would not begin until ongoing court controversy over the issue is clarified.

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Health
4:33 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Medicaid Woes Subject of House Committee Hearing

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

At a morning hearing on the implementation of Medicaid managed care in South Texas, lawmakers got a much bigger earful on the consequences of difficult budget decisions they made in the last legislative session.

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Politics
1:01 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Interactive: Who's Eligible for Deferred Action in Texas

graphic by: Todd Wiseman / Kyle Steed

The Obama administration next week will begin accepting applications for deferred action from what it expects to be hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the country illegally.

The policy, which was announced June 15, grants relief from deportation proceedings to certain immigrants who meet certain guidelines. Two-year work permits will also be issued to qualified applicants.

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Health
12:26 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Millions in Rebates Doled Out to Insured Texans

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

As if perfectly cued to election season, multimillion-dollar rebates are being doled out across America by insurance companies thanks to a new rule in the federal Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Although the much-maligned “Obamacare” remains a prime target for Texas Republicans on the campaign trail, Democrats and other political consultants say the tangible benefits of the ACA now taking effect could change voters’ perspectives on President Obama's signature legislative package. 

“The hardest part politically for ACA has always been that it will take a while for the program to kick in and even longer for people to realize benefits,” Mark McKinnon, a political consultant and former media strategist for George W. Bush, said in an email. “These rebates will be a welcome surprise to a lot of consumers and help reduce angst about ACA.”

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Texas
11:03 am
Thu March 15, 2012

State Spends Big to Pay Workers for Unused Vacation

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Texas government agencies have paid fired or resigning state employees more than $500 million in unused vacation time over the last decade. It’s a staggering sum that fiscal conservative critics call “ridiculous,” especially in tough budget times.

But state workers say what’s ridiculous is that so many jobs have been cut — and that agencies are so understaffed that employees can’t take vacations.

In each of the last 10 years, state officials paid out an average $50 million in accrued vacation time, according to data from the Texas comptroller’s office. That number crept up to $68 million in 2004 and $67 million last year — both on the heels of a budget shortfall and related layoffs.

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Texas
12:56 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Texas Has Largest Population Growth

The Lone Star State is getting bigger. Texas had the largest population growth of any state between April 2010 and July 2011, according to figures released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although the state is still second to California in total population, Texas has gained more people than any other state — at least 529,000 — since the last major Census figures were released.

The five states with the greatest population growth — Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — accounted for more than half of national growth during that time period. As a whole, the national population increased by 2.8 million, and is now 311.6 million.

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Austin
10:14 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Interactive: Census Reveals Rising Poverty Rates Across Texas

Percentage of the Texas Population Living in Poverty: All Ages

In 2010, 4.4 million Texans — including 1.7 million children — lived below the poverty line, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday. That's 18 percent of the total population and 26 percent of children in Texas. To be considered poor, a family of four must have had a household income less than $22,500 in 2010. The rising poverty levels since the national recession hit in 2007 have affected more than 200 of Texas' 254 counties. Use these interactive maps to compare the rate of poverty across the state. 

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Politics
3:31 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

How Do TxDOT's New Salaries Compare to Other Agencies?

The Texas Transportation Commission made headlines last week when it approved a plan to upgrade the management of the Department of Transportation with five new hires — each paid up to at least $250,000 annually. 

The commission and TxDOT have attempted to justify the large salary increases as part of an initiative to revitalize the giant agency by attracting new talent from the private sector. 

We combed The Texas Tribune'sgovernment employee salary database to see how the salaries of the new TxDOT positions compare to salaries of similar positions at other public entities. The Tribune’s database includes information from 140 public agencies and offices (click here for information on which entities were added in the latest update).

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2012 Presidential Election
3:32 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Perry Claims Texas Teaches Creationism in Public Schools

Video not working? You can also watch it here.

Gov. Rick Perry told a child questioner in New Hampshire today that Texas public schools teach creationism alongside evolution — a statement that state education experts are refuting in varying degrees.

“No, it is not true," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an interest group that has lobbied the State Board of Education to keep religion out of public schools. "Texas science standards do not call for teaching creationism in the classroom."

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Politics
4:59 pm
Mon June 27, 2011

House Version of TSA Bill Still Alive

State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, talks to a colleague on the House floor on May 16, 2011.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

The House version of the TSA “anti-groping” bill is alive — and significantly changed. The House tentatively approved it on a voice vote this afternoon.

Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, the author of the bill, added a “clarifying” amendment to address the concerns of the Attorney General. He said the amendment reorders the wording of the section about private parts, adds a reasonable defense clause, and a provision to salvage the bill should it be ruled unconstitutional in the courts.

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Politics
12:24 pm
Fri June 24, 2011

Straus: TSA Bill an "Ill-Advised Publicity Stunt"

House Speaker Joe Straus talks to members prior to a debate on HB15 the sonogram bill on March 2, 2011
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

The TSA anti-groping bill hit another roadblock today when the House adjourned without considering the legislation as scheduled. “Our plane was not full to capacity,” House Speaker Joe Straus said, hinting that the House did not have a quorum present to pass the legislation. But that wasn't the only reason the bill wasn't heard.

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Politics
3:27 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Planned Parenthood Again in Lawmakers' Crosshairs

Photo by Jacob Villanueva for the Texas Tribune

GOP lawmakers' battle against Planned Parenthood resumed today, as lawmakers on a Senate subcommittee passed out a bill that would renew the Texas Women's Health Program, but prohibit the country's most prominent family planning organization from participating.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Abortion Sonogram Bill Clears Another Hurdle

Sen. Dan Patrick (l), R-Houston, listens to an amendment by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, during the debate on HB15 on May 2, 2011.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Senate lawmakers have tentatively passed a controversial measure to require women seeking abortions to receive sonograms — and have the details of the fetus described to them — prior to the procedure. Pending a final vote tomorrow, the bill will head back to the House so the lower chamber can sign off on the Senate's changes. 

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Politics
3:14 pm
Thu April 28, 2011

Ogden: Still No Budget Deal in Texas Senate

State Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Senators left a meeting this morning looking no closer to an agreement on the budget — and Finance Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the method of financing remains the sticking point.

“If we’re not going to use the Rainy Day fund when it’s raining, we might as well get rid of it," Ogden told reporters after this morning's caucus. "This is what it’s for.”

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