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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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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Politics
5:12 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Howard/Neil Race Not Quite Over

Dan Neil, the Republican in the race for House District 48, has filed a challenge against Democrat State House member Donna Howard.  Howard won re-election by 16 votes on Election Day.  That number was trimmed to 12 during an official re-count.  Now, Neil says a number of factors have lead him to file the challenge.

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Texas
4:04 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Avoid at Christmas: Fruitcake, Family Drama and Mexico

State officials say stay away from Mexico over the holidays
Picture by KUT

In a move that seems to be becoming a holiday tradition, the Texas Department of Public Safety released it's annual call for Texans to avoid Mexico over the holidays.  DPS sighted increased violence, kidnappings, assault and rape along the boarder as reasons Texans should stay away.

In a press release today, DPS Director Steven C. McCraw says that while the department knows people safely travel and vacation in Mexico on a daily basis, the increase in violence is also a reality.

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Austin
2:54 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Cats and Dogs (and people) Sleeping Together...Mass Hysteria!

The Austin Humane Society gets ready to sleep with the animals
picture courtesy the Austin Humane Society

Workers and volunteers at the Austin Humane Society will spend the night at the shelter to honor all of the animals that will be homeless during the holidays.  The 5th annual sleep over starts tonight at 7 with a visit from Santa.  After the jolly fat guy poses for pictures with the shelter pets, the dogs will be allowed to run around an indoor dog park.  While all cats will be allowed to roam around the shelter as well.  Shelter staff and volunteers will spend the night all around the shelter, including dog kennels, cat rooms and play areas

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Arts and Culture
2:08 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

KOOP Radio Turns 16

KOOP went on the air 16 years ago in Austin.
Logo courtesy KOOP

The Austin city council passed a proclamation today to recognize KOOP radio's 16 years of public service broadcasting in Austin. KOOP delivers an eclectic mix of music and public affairs programming, all created and run by station volunteers.

Kim McCarson is the station's executive director, one of its few paid positions.  She says KOOP is the only cooperatively run station in the US.

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