Veronica Zaragovia

State Reporter

Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has contributed reporting to NPR, PRI's The World, Here & Now and Latino USA, the Agence France Presse, TIME in Hong Kong and PBS NewsHour, among others. She has two degrees from Columbia University, and has dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee. 

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University of Texas
8:35 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Just What Does the University of Texas System Chancellor Do?

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa's replacement is being finalized.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

University of Texas System regents plan to meet today and they could name a finalist in their search for a new University of Texas System chancellor. That's after UT's current chancellor announced in February that he would step down. But just what does a chancellor do?

The two candidates being considered for the University of Texas System are Richard Fisher – the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – and Admiral William H. McRaven, a 36-year Navy Seal who led the task force that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

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Border & Immigration
10:02 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Can National Guard Troops Make Arrests Along the Texas Border?

Texas Adjudant General John Nichols speaks at a press conference on the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border on July 21, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Can the National Guard troops being deployed to the border arrest and detain people? Only if Gov. Rick Perry says they can. But experts do have some concerns about giving law enforcement powers to a reserve military force.

From a legal standpoint, the National Guard has no authority to enforce federal immigration law, because the troops will be operating under the governor’s authority. In this case, Gov. Perry has called them up, and not President Barack Obama.

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Texas Foster Care
7:17 am
Fri July 25, 2014

After Child Deaths, Texas Lawmakers Examine Foster Care Practices

State lawmakers have had several committee meetings to discuss possible reform to the state's foster care system. Yesterday's meeting was the third in the past two months.
Credit David Garzon

Texas lawmakers have already convened several times this year to discuss rampant – and persistent -- problems in the state’s foster care system. On Thursday, another hearing at the Capitol took place to look into what can be changed.

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Austin
7:34 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Police Officer Deaths Are on the Rise Across the Country

Police officer deaths are higher than in previous years, according to a survey from the National Law Enforement Officers Memorial Fund.
KUT News

The number of law officer deaths across the nation has risen dramatically so far this year, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

During the first half of this year, 67 law enforcement officers in the U.S. were killed while on duty – a 31 percent increase over the same period last year.

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Affordable Care Act
4:26 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Could Medicaid Expansion Boost the Texas Economy?

A new study from Families USA suggests taxi drivers are among the 1.5 million Texans who would get health insurance if Texas expanded Medicaid eligibility.
flickr.com/bionicteaching

If Texas accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid, roughly 1.5 million more people would have health insurance. Now a new study suggests more than half of them are people who work in service industries that help fuel the state’s economy.

The report by Families USA says the people in Texas who’d benefit most from closing the coverage gap are cashiers, drivers, cooks and servers, hotel clerks and construction workers, for example.

Many of them don’t earn enough to qualify for a tax subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, Dee Mahon with Families USA says.

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Border & Immigration
10:44 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Texas Sends National Guard Troops to Border, Despite Opposing Voices

From left: Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas National Guard Maj. Gen. John Nichols and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spoke at a press conference on border security on July 21, 2014 at the Texas State Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry is sending National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. He says the troops are needed, as the Border Patrol has been focusing on migrant children crossing the border illegally, and not criminal activity from drug and human traffickers.

Gov. Perry’s announcement comes a month after he directed the Legislature to spend millions of dollars increasing the number of Department of Public Safety officers near the border – a move Perry says it's working.

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Immigration Reform
8:48 am
Fri July 11, 2014

How a Bush-Era Law Against Trafficking Impacts the Immigration Surge

Because of a 2008 law, thousands of children crossing into Texas illegally are not turned back right away.
flickr.com/cbpphotos

Because of a 2008 law, thousands of children crossing into Texas illegally are not turned back right away. That’s because they must get an immigration hearing first – due to a federal law that passed with bipartisan support.

The legislation in wound through Congress in late 2007. A year later, President George W. Bush signed it into law. So why is it coming up now?

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Texas
10:19 am
Wed July 9, 2014

As Inmates Age, Prison Health Care Spending in Texas Could Grow

Researchers at The Pew Charitable Trusts have a new report out that suggests Texas will continue to spend more on inmate health care as prison population ages.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

Researchers at The Pew Charitable Trusts have a new report out on how much states are spending on inmate health care. Between 2001 and 2008, Texas had a decrease in this spending, but since then, it’s gone up again. 

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Affordable Care Act
5:36 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Many Texans Say Health Insurance Costs Too Much, Despite Obamacare Subsidies

A new report from Rice University's Baker Institute and the Episcopal Health Foundation suggests nearly half of Texans eligible for tax credits under Obamacare say health insurance is still too expensive.
healthcare.gov

Under the Affordable Care Act, tax subsidies for consumers who qualify are meant to make health insurance more affordable, but a new report suggests about half of eligible Texans say it still costs too much.

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KUT's Summer School
1:15 pm
Fri July 4, 2014

How Math and Memory Can Make or Break Your DJ Skills

DJ Orión Garcia, left, teaches KUT reporter Veronica Zaragovia what it takes to be a DJ at his home studio in Austin.
Sergio Padilla for KUT

It’s time for another class in KUT’s Summer School series!

So far, our reporters have learned how to glass blow, make wooden bowls and become a knight!

KUT’s Veronica Zaragovia visited some of Austin’s most talented DJs -- Orión Garcia of Peligrosa and Lorenzo Villareal of Dub Academy -- to learn what it takes to get behind the turn tables.

And as she learns, it takes far more than loving music to be a DJ. For starters, DJs are really good at math and have a vast memory. Find out if Veronica stands a chance.

2014 Texas Democratic Convention
11:47 am
Mon June 30, 2014

After Rallying Party Faithful, Texas Democrats Get Back on Campaign Trail

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, wave at Democrats at the Texas Democratic Convention on June 27, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

At their statewide convention in Dallas over the weekend, the top Democratic nominees took the stage and the party set its priorities for the upcoming year. Texas Democratic Party leaders urged the party faithful to knock on doors and make phone calls to change the political color of the state. State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, chair of the convention, was among them.

"I’m crazy enough to believe, and I hope you are too, that we can do big things better if we turn Texas blue," Sen. West said.

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Immigration Reform
11:06 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Why Children in Texas Illegally Could Stay in the U.S. for Years

Many of the thousands of children from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border are eventually subject to deportation, but it could take years before their cases goes to immigration court.
flickr.com/cbpphotos

Many of the thousands of children from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border are eventually subject to deportation, but it could take years before their cases goes to court.

Texas has the second highest number of pending immigration cases after California. The problem is simple, immigration lawyers say: The courts just don’t have enough judges.

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2014 Texas Democratic Convention
6:56 pm
Sat June 28, 2014

Democrats Say Texas Values Align With Their Party Platform

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa speaks at the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas on June 27, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Democrats support immigration reform – so it came as no surprise that the issue arose on at the party's convention of Saturday. But at the start of the day, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made an unexpected announcement regarding the surge of unaccompanied minors in Texas from Central America:  the county is locating facilities to take in roughly 2,000 unaccompanied minors. 

"We had a lot of the elected officials here, all of whom stand for the proposition that it is the right thing to do to be compassionate to children," Jenkins said, when asked why he made the announcement at the convention. "If [the state] would open up facilities to the federal government and work with them instead of working against them, then we could move these children from cages on the border to compassionate care." The move is expected to take place by late July;  the average stay of children will be about 21 days. After that, the children would be taken to relatives' homes.

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2014 Texas Democratic Convention
1:35 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Texas Democrats Focus on Women, Voter Outreach at 2014 State Party Convention

Thousands came out to the Dallas Convention Center for the 2014 Texas Democratic Convention.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Democrats are in Dallas for their party’s statewide convention that was called to order shortly after 6 p.m. Friday.

Thousands of elected officials, candidates and activists have come to nominate the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor – State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Democrats are also already working on their party platform.

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2014 Election
1:37 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Texas Democrats Mark Filibuster Anniversary Ahead of Convention

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, left, and State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, spoke to supporters on June 25, 2014, the one-year anniversary of Sen. Davis's filibuster.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Abortion rights supporters gathered last night to mark one year since State Sen. Wendy Davis's filibuster of legislation restricting abortions in Texas.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate from Fort Worth spoke at an event Wednesday marking the day, but also aimed at gathering momentum for her race against her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott.

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Sunset Advisory Commission
4:20 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Sunset Commission Hears Testimony on Closing Austin State Supported Living Center

Members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are hearing testimony from the public on June 25, 2014 about reports recommending reforms of several state agencies.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are hearing from the public today about reports recommending large-scale changes to several state agencies – including shutting down six state-supported living centers. 

Most people at the Capitol are testifying in support of the Sunset staff’s report on the Department of Family and Protective Services and severe inadequacies that lead to child deaths and caseworker turnover. But others are there to testify against a Sunset staff report [click here for PDF] suggesting the Department of Aging and Disability Services should shutter the Austin State Supported Living Center, off of W. 35th Street near Camp Mabry, by 2017.

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Sunset Advisory Commission
9:15 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Commission Hears Input on Fixing Major Flaws of Texas Agencies

The Sunset Advisory Commission's first day of public meetings about recommendations to reform state agencies took place on June 24, 2014.
KUT News

The second day of the Sunset Advisory Commission’s public meetings at the Capitol is underway.

Today, the public can comment on recommendations made in recent commission staff reports on how to fix major flaws at state agencies, including the Department of Family Protective Services. A June report [click here for PDF] of the Sunset Advisory Commission had about 100 pages of recommendations for reforming the department.

Sunset staff member and project manager Amy Tripp, who worked on the report, told lawmakers Tuesday that caseworkers complain about the punitive work environment.

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Texas
9:31 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Texas Near the Very Bottom in Some Elderly Care Measures

A new AARP study says Texas ranks 30th in the U.S. on care for older adults – but it's close to dead last in quality of care and quality of life measures.
AARP

A national score card out today ranks states on the long-term services they provide for the elderly – and while Texas sits in the middle of the pack overall, it's at the very bottom in some important measures.

The report looks at indicators like affordability, quality of care and support for family caregivers. Overall, Texas ranks 30th on care for older adults. Minnesota tops the list while Alabama and Kentucky are at the bottom. Read more on the overall report.

But on some specific indicators, however, Texas is at the very bottom. In both quality of care and quality of life, Texas ranks 49th, according to the 2014 Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard. High staff  turnover, the use of antipsychotic medications and a high rate of pressure sores pull the state's score down.

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Affordable Care Act
10:53 am
Wed June 18, 2014

The Most Popular Obamacare Plans in Texas

Most consumers in Texas – and across the U.S. – are choosing health insurance plans within the silver tier through the federal marketplace.
healthcare.gov

We’re learning more about the type of health insurance plan most Texas consumers purchased through the federal marketplace and how much they’re paying ,through data released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Consumers can choose from four tiers of health plans – platinum to bronze. The most expensive ones contain the most benefits, while the lower cost plans with fewer benefits.

Most consumers in Texas chose the lowest or second lowest plans within the mid-level silver tier. Here's several examples of silver level plans from  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.

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Texas
5:16 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Embattled Texas Sex Offender Agency Undergoing Big Changes

The Texas Office of Sex Offender Management that supervises violent sex offenders after they’re released from prison has a new director who’s making changes.
Sex offender map image from Texas Department of Public Safety website

A Texas agency that supervises violent sex offenders after they’re released from prison has a new director who’s making changes.

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