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.

Pages

Politics
5:30 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Agenda Texas: Legislative Development

Property tax breaks for veterans leads this year's list of 10 propositions.
KUT News

Well, folks it’s the final countdown. It’s almost here. New episodes of Arrested Development. And the end of the Texas Legislative session is coming too.

Lawmakers still have to finish their most important job: passing the state budget. We’ve had an agreement – in theory – between House and Senate budget negotiators for about a week. But depending on the time of day, the agreement has shifted from tenuous to … well even more tenuous.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Agenda Texas: Constitutional Slowdown

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Let’s count it down folks, four days left until the end of the 83rd Texas Legislative session.

Budget Deal Ain't Done

Just because we’re almost at the end doesn’t mean things are ending nicely. The “on-again-off-again” squabble over the final version of the state budget has, like any good Taylor Swift song, ended in a breakup.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Agenda Texas: Bill Kill, Vol. 2

Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) was a top bill killer this week.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

It all ends Monday for the 83rd Texas Legislative session.

The final round of deadlines hit the House and Senate this week. Ending debate on some bills, leaving a trail of dead campaign promises, broken legislative dreams, and a long line of disappointed advocates and lobbyists. That’s right folks...it’s time again for Bill Kill - Volume 2!

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Agenda Texas: Budget Agreement Gets Stuck

Budget negotiations continue as time starts to run out.
Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

Hey you remember on Friday when we announced there was a budget agreement?

Yeah, about that....

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Agenda Texas: Carona's Bidness

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

The Texas House takes up a major ethics bill today. Government watchdog groups had hoped the legislation re-authorizing the Texas Ethics Commission would have strengthened disclosure and conflict of interest laws.

But the bill didn't go as far as those advocates hoped it would.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Agenda Texas: Daily Drama at the Capitol

Despite this recent visit to the Texas House by Gov. Rick Perry, hugs aren't the norm in the final days of a Texas Legislative session
Veronica Zaragovia

There is nothing quite like the end of a Texas Legislative session. There’s drama, suspense, violence! OK - maybe just a little yelling. It’s almost like the end of an action movie.

All hope is lost, disaster is just a moment away,but then…a miracle saves the day.

The Ever Changing Session

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Agenda Texas: Busted Budget Negotiations

There have been a couple of stumbles as lawmakers try to end budget negotiations.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News.

Today was supposed to be the day. In the morning, House and Senate budget negotiators announced there would be a meeting at 2 pm, which many interpreted as the meeting that would unveil the budget agreement.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

At 2:15, the meeting was delayed until 3. At about 3:30, the meeting was delayed until 5.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Agenda Texas: Medicaid Expansion Update

Medicaid expansion holding on by a thread under the dome.
Texas Tribune

Medicaid expansion in Texas: we’ve highlighted the topic a couple of times during the legislative session. From those hoping to pick up Medicaid coverage, to lawmakers for and against Texas joining in the Affordable Care Act program.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Agenda Texas: Water Funding Gets New Life

Rep. Pitts (R-Waxahachie) is pushing a new water plan this week.
Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

It looks like lawmakers have finally come to an agreement on how to fund future water infrastructure projects in Texas. Step one of the agreement was the House finally sending Senate Joint Resolution 1 to the House Appropriations committee for a vote.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Agenda Texas: Final Fortnight for 2013 Legislature

Still plenty let to do before the session ends on the May 27th.
Image courtesy Dave Wilson Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawilson/

Two weeks to go in the Texas Legislative session folks. And there’s even less time than that for lawmakers to pass bills before constitutional deadlines make it nearly impossible to get things done.

Read more
Education
7:44 pm
Sat May 11, 2013

AISD Bond Election Results

It's Election Night for AISD
KUT News

Update (10:30 pm): The Greater Austin Chamber has released its response to tonight's vote. The Chamber says it's excited about the technology upgrades being provided by the passage of bonds 1 and 3. While lamenting that Prop 2 lost by about 200 votes saying, "we should remember that only 7.2% of registered voters cast a ballot. Those who thought someone else would solve this problem were mistaken. Every vote matters."

Update (10:20 pm): With all votes counted, AISD only won 2 of the 4 bond propositions on the ballot today.

Winners:

Prop 1: $140 million for Health, Environment, Equipment and Technology
Prop 3: $350 million for Academic and Building Infrastructure Renovations

Losers:
Prop 2: $234 million for Safety and Security and Relief from Overcrowding
Prop 4: $169 million for Academic Initiatives, Fine Arts and Athletics

Read more
Austin
10:39 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Inmate Dies at Travis County Jail

Travis County officials say a 53-year-old woman died at the Travis County Correctional Complex located just east of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Laureen Butler from New Orleans was found unresponsive at around 3 a.m. Friday morning. Jail medical staff were called to the scene. The staff also called Austin/Travis County EMS and began administering lifesaving measures. EMS arrived on the scene a short time later but Butler was pronounced dead at 4:24 a.m.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Agenda Texas: Bill Kill, Vol. 1

Just a few days left in the 2013 session
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Read more
Politics
7:00 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Obama in Austin: 'Folks Around Here Are Doing Something Right'

President Obama spoke to crowds at Austin's Applied Materials yesterday.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

President Barack Obama spent about six hours in Austin yesterday touring around the city on the first stop of what the White House is calling a “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.

After landing mid-day in Austin, the President headed to Manor New Technology high school. The school is what’s called a STEM academy – focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Agenda Texas: What's the Battle in Texas?

President Obama speaking in Austin last year.
Filipa Rodrigues

President Barack Obama's trip to a high school and technology company in Austin today was, on the surface, all about creating jobs. But his visit was also an morale boost for Texas Democrats still looking for any statewide win to turn its fortunes around in the state.

Read more
Politics
5:45 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Agenda Texas: An Update on the Texas Miracle

Gov. Perry hopes tax cuts will keep the state's economy running strong.
Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune

President Barack Obama will be in Austin tomorrow. The stop is part of his "Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour.”

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Agenda Texas: What's Left To Do?

Lots to do...with little time left in the Legislature
KUT News

When the Texas legislative session started in January, lawmakers came to Austin with money to spend and a specific set of priorities. House Speaker Joe Straus laid out those goals during an opening press conference with Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Agenda Texas: Deadline Week in the Texas House

flickr.com/tslac

It’s so close folks: There's just three weeks until the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature comes to an end.

But for many lawmakers, this week is the real end of all the work to turn campaign promises into legislation. Because for most bills that originated in the Texas House, it’s pass or pass away Thursday night at midnight.

Read more
Politics
5:33 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

Agenda Texas: Tea Party Power

The Tea Party is having a tough legislative session.
photo by KUT News

It’s been a tumultuous week in the Texas Capitol. A House bill that would have spent $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund on water infrastructure projects was sunk Monday night on a procedural point of order.

Read more
Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Agenda Texas: Saturday is Gun Day in the Texas House

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Texas is a gun-friendly state. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. That fact is easy to see during any given legislative session, when bills are often filed expanding where people can carry in the state.

Read more

Pages