Ben Philpott

Senior Reporter, State Politics and Policy

Ben Philpott covers politics and policy for KUT. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and has been named Radio Journalist of the Year by the Houston Press club three times.

Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

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Texas, Census
3:48 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Census Data Breakdown from the Texas Tribune

Image courtesy of the US Census Bureau

Our good friends and political reporting partners, The Texas Tribune, have started breaking down the U.S. Census data released today.  

The new numbers show the Hispanic population in Texas increased by 42 percent since 2000, and the group now makes up 38 percent of the population.

Texas’ population is now 25,145,561. That's a 4,293,741 increase from 2000’s figure, a 20.6 percent change.

Politics
3:54 pm
Fri February 11, 2011

Initial Report Gives HD 48 to Rep. Howard by 4 Votes

Rep. Howard gets initial nod in election challenge
Picture Courtesy The Texas Tribune

A state lawmaker tasked with investigating an election challenge in a Travis County House District says Donna Howard (D-Austin) is the winner by 4 votes over her GOP challenger Dan Neil.  Howard won re-election to the Texas House on Election Day by 16 votes.  A recount lowered the margin to 12.

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Politics
2:24 pm
Wed February 9, 2011

Texas House Committees Posted

Speaker Straus had plenty of changes in the new committee list
Picture courtesy of The Texas Tribune

House Speaker Joe Straus has released his list of committees for the 82nd Texas Legislative Session.  The list has dozens of changes from the last session.  Which was expected after Republicans gained 25 seats since 2009 and now have a supermajority in the House.  Democrats lost chairmanships on high profile committees like Ways and Means (where tax bills originate) and Transportation (which is were road bills originate).

Here's the list and demographic breakdown:

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Texas
9:05 am
Sun February 6, 2011

Sunday Morning Brief

Governor Rick Perry will lay out his legislative agenda Tuesday
picture courtesy of The Texas Tribune

You know what they say, if you don't like the weather in Texas...just wait a minute.  After 72-hours below freezing in Austin, we got into the upper 60's Saturday with another nice day ahead today.  BUT, we've got freezing temperatures and rain (or sleet or whatever) in the forecast this week.  So, don't pack your heavy coats yet.

On to the news of the day:

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Politics
3:04 pm
Fri February 4, 2011

The Daily Show Comes to Austin

    

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart made a stop in Texas a few weeks back to tape a story on the Texas House Speaker's race.  The reason for the trip was the inclusion of some anti-semitic messages in the campaign to oust current Speaker Joe Straus, who is Jewish.  The segment aired Thursday night.  

Austin's state Representative Elliott Naishtat, who's also Jewish, was interviewed for the story but sadly didn't make the final cut.

Sports
12:34 pm
Fri February 4, 2011

Super Bowl XLV's Local Flavor

Cowboys stadium will host Super Bowl XLV this Sunday, February 6.
Steve Carlton http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevencarlton/3939882262/sizes/z/in/photostream/

This Sunday's Super Bowl will showcase two of the league's premier quarterbacks: Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh's two-time champion Ben Roethlisberger. But along with that, Super Bowl XLV will also feature former Texas Longhorns and players who made names for themselves in the Lone Star State. Sunday's big game, played in Dallas Cowboys Stadium (or "Jerry World", as some people refer to it) will be a homecoming for some of the players.

Here's our list of Texas football players looking forward to the game of their lives this Sunday.

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Business
11:43 am
Fri February 4, 2011

Job Growth Slows in January

More Jobs in January, but not many
Picture by KUT News

The national unemployment rate dropped from 9.4% to 9% in January.  But the country only added 36,000 jobs.  The decrease came in part because of an increase people not looking for work, what the U.S. Department of Labor calls "marginally attached and discouraged" workers.  The manufacturing and retail sectors were added the most jobs.  Construction, transportation and warehousing shed the most jobs.

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Politics
2:11 pm
Mon January 24, 2011

Texas Senate Lays Out Its Own Budget

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and the Texas Senate lay out their budget.
Picture by KUT News

The Texas Senate has added its take on the 2012-2013 Texas budget to the ongoing debate.  The Senate's version spends $158.7 billion.  That's $2.3 billion more than the Texas House's version of the bill.  The additional money includes about $500 million more for both the public education and higher education budgets.

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Austin
9:17 am
Sun January 23, 2011

Sunday Morning Brief

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen
Picture by KUT News

Good morning from the KUT Newsroom.  We hope the high cedar and mold counts don't have you feeling like us (nothing like going through a box of tissue first thing in the morning).  Anyway...plenty of news to pass along this morning.

Austin ISD Goes Over Facilities Plan...again:

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Politics
2:27 pm
Mon January 17, 2011

Michael Williams Set to Make 2012 Senate Run

Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams
picture courtesy Michael Williams

 

Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams appears ready to make his campaign to replace U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison a full time job.  Ross Ramsey over at KUT's political reporting partner The Texas Tribune, says Williams will resign his commissioner's seat to focus his efforts on the race for higher office.

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Politics
4:29 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Committee for Howard/Neil Election Challenge Set

Howard - Neil election challenge set to start
picture courtesy of The Texas Tribune

The referees have been named for the election battle between State Representative Donna Howard (D-Austin) and her Republican challenger Dan Neil.  Texas House Speaker Joe Straus sent out an e-mail today with a list of the 9 lawmakers on the House Select Committee on Election Contest.

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Politics
11:59 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Fight on 2/3rds Rule Delayed in Senate

There wasn't as much action under the Capitol Dome today, as some had expected.
Photo by KUT News

The Texas Senate was expected to take up its rules for the 2011 legislative session today.  But, they did not.  In fact they gaveled in and gaveled out in 10 minutes.  

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Politics
10:42 am
Wed January 12, 2011

The Big 3 Lay Out Session Goals

Gov. Perry, Speaker Straus and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst stay on "No New Taxes" message
Photo by KUT News

Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus held their 1st weekly breakfast of the 2011 legislative session today.  After the meal (which included eggs, according to Speaker Straus) they met with the Capitol press corps to say basically the same thing they've been saying for the last years:  The state will balance the budget without any revenue increases.  

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Politics
4:37 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Governor Names Emergency Items

Texas Governor Rick Perry has handed out the first assignments for lawmakers in the 2011 legislative session.  In separate speeches before lawmakers in the House and Senate, Mr. Perry announced he was making the protection of private property rights and eminent domain along with abolishing sanctuary cities in Texas emergency items for the session.

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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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Immigration
1:40 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Immigration Battles Heat Up...Again

State Representative Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas) will lead the charge against immigration laws in the House.
KUT News

Ever since Arizona passed its controversial immigration law last year, some Texas lawmakers have been chomping at the bit for their chance to push similar legislation here.

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Politics
10:52 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Voters Already Expect New Congress to Disappoint

The more things change...the more voters expect to be disappointed.
Image courtesy Andy-Beal www.flickr.com/photos/sel/

According to a new Rasmussen poll, the more things change in Washington, the more voters do not expect better results.  

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Texas
8:50 am
Sun January 2, 2011

Sunday Morning Round-Up

Election Night 2010 will have a big affect on this upcoming legislative session.
Picture by KUT News

The 1st Sunday of 2011.  I hope more and more of you will resolve to start off your Sunday checking out the KUT News blog to see what's going on around town.

Taking a look at the top stories today:

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Developing
12:01 pm
Tue December 21, 2010

Texas Adds Four Congressional Seats

Texas added the most population over the decade
U.S. Census Bureau

UPDATE:  U.S. Census interactive map added at 12:50 p.m.

Texas now has 25,145,561 residents.  That number was released this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The additional 4-million residents the state has added since 2000 brought an additional 4 U.S. House seats to the state.  Those seats will be divvied up during the 2011 Texas Legislative session. 

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Politics
11:02 am
Tue December 21, 2010

Family Feud: GOP Edition

The Speaker's election could be a one party race
Picture by Erik Reyna for KUT News

State House member Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) says he has collected a enough signatures to force the Republican caucus to take a vote on who will be the next House Speaker

In a e-mail statement released this morning, Rep. Chisum says the party needs the caucus to meet to select "one conservative candidate" for Speaker of the House. 

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