2011 Legislative Session

Education
4:42 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Education Commissioner Urges Districts To Begin Making Hard Decisions About Cuts

Education Commissioner Robert Scott addressing school administrators at a conference in Austin said they need to start reducing their budgets now to show lawmakers they are willing to cooperate in helping to close the budget gap.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

With the state budget leaders proposing to cut as much as $10 billion from public education to help close a state budget gap of between $15 and $27 billion, Education Commissioner Robert Scott warned hundreds of school administrators gathered in Austin this afternoon that Texas is facing the most difficult legislative session for public education in his lifetime.

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Education
3:26 pm
Fri January 28, 2011

Zilker Parents Plan Protest Against School Closures Starting At 11:30 Tomorrow Morning

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Parents who have children in Zilker Elementary will march from their school to a lot next to Austin's Pizza on South Lamar Boulevard tomorrow. They are trying to raise awareness about a draft proposal by an Austin school district task force that could see Zilker closed and the children bussed to other facilities.

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Education
9:10 am
Wed January 26, 2011

Round Rock ISD To Lose Between $47 Million and $73 Million In State Cash

Image courtesy Steve Wampler http://www.flickr.com/photos/sgw/

The second largest school district in Central Texas is assessing the damage it anticipates as a result of projected state cuts to education. Here's the letter Superintendent Chavez sent to employees yesterday.

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Health
4:46 pm
Tue January 25, 2011

New Study Says Conditions For Texas Children Trail National Average

Image courtesy Texans Care For Children

With dramatic spending cuts to Texas' limited social services network expected in the upcoming state budget, a new report from an Austin non-profit suggests Texas children are already struggling compared to their United States counterparts.

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Politics
11:13 am
Tue January 25, 2011

Why Is Voter ID an Emergency In 2011 Legislative Session?

From our political reporting partner The Texas Tribune comes this video of State Sens. John Whitmire (D-Houston) and Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) debating the importance of voter ID, which Gov. Rick Perry has declared a legislative emergency.  Wondering what the heck that means? The Texas Tribune explains.

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Education
1:34 am
Tue January 25, 2011

Austin School Board Approves 485 Job Cuts But Balanced Budget Still Distant

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen and school board president Mark Williams listen to angry parents during public comment period of last night's board meeting.
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

January is School Board Recognition Month, and while board members received gift baskets and pictures drawn by children, the people who packed into last night’s school board meeting were in no mood to celebrate. During the public comment section of the board meeting, people responded to some of the most controversial budget reduction proposals – everything from laying off teachers and librarians to closing neighborhood schools.

But school closures were not on the menu last night. Board members were faced with a different set of unpleasant options. They involved changing staffing formulas to eliminate hundreds of teachers and dozens of librarians, among other employees.

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Politics
4:42 pm
Mon January 24, 2011

Over 100 Lawmakers & Staff Sign Up for CPR

After the heart attack death of a former state representatives, legislators and their staff will get CPR lessons
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Some Texas lawmakers and their staffs will be getting a course in CPR training, starting this week.

The Texas Society Anesthesiologists is organizing the training sessions, with help from the American Heart Association and the Seton Family of Hospitals.  State Rep. John Zerwas (R-Simonton) is an anestheologist and former society president.  He performed CPR on then-State Rep. Edmund Kuempel, after the Seguin Republican suffered a near-fatal heart attack and collapsed in a Capitol elevator during the 2009 legislative session. 

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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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Education
11:27 am
Mon January 24, 2011

Austin School Board To Consider Axing 536 Jobs At Tonight's Meeting

The courtyard outside AISD board meeting room will be bustling tonight as trustees consider tough choices about how to close a budget gap.
Image by KUT News

It's going to be a busy night at Austin Independent School District headquarters as board members confront some of the toughest decisions they have been asked to make in their careers as school district leaders.

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Politics
2:38 pm
Thu January 20, 2011

Gov. Perry Announces Two More Emergency Items

Governor Perry added two more items to the Legislature's "emergency" list today.
Photo by Chris Kosho/KUT.

Gov. Rick Perry has declared two more emergency items for the 2011 legislative session. The new emergency items include legislation that would require voters to show identification at the ballot box, and a bill calling for a new balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and the integrity of the ballot box are critical to the people of Texas,”  Perry said in a press release today.  “Under this emergency declaration, Texas lawmakers will be able to address these priority issues more quickly.”

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Education
10:51 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Eissler: Cutting Non-Teaching Staff To 2006 Levels Could Save $3 Billion

A view of the Capitol dome from inside the Capitol building.
Photo by KUT News

The man in charge of the House Education Committee in the Texas legislature is looking at ways to reduce spending as the state grapples with its massive budget gap. Rob Eissler says reducing the number of counselors, librarians, administrators to 2006 levels could save $3 billion in the next budget.

The story comes from KERA, our NPR sister station in Dallas. News director Shelley Kofler sent us this piece they ran this morning.

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Arts and Culture
5:02 pm
Thu January 13, 2011

2011 Session: Opening Day Time Lapse

Education
12:52 pm
Thu January 13, 2011

Schools Would Not Close In 2011 (And Other Misperceptions AISD Battles As It Seeks To Sell Closures)

About 700 people attended a public meeting at the Delco Center last night to discuss school closure options that could be considered by AISD.
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Emotions ran high at the first of two public meetings last night intended to give people an opportunity to respond to school closure options developed by an Austin Independent School District task force

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Politics
11:29 am
Thu January 13, 2011

Tucson Shooting And Mental Health Cuts In 2011 Texas Legislative Session

A view of the Capitol dome from inside the Capitol building.
Image by KUT

The first wave of political rhetoric to follow Saturday's shooting in Tucson, Arizona speculated on whether Jared Loughner was influenced by far right extremism or socialist dogma.

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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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Austin
8:59 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Wednesday Morning Update, January 12, 2011

With opening day pomp disposed of, both the Texas House and Senate get down to business today.
Photo by Dave Bernstein for KUT News

Senate Rules Vote

The Texas Senate will vote on the rules it will use for the 82nd Legislature today.  Key among the votes is the so-called "2/3rds Vote."  State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) is expected to lead a charge that eliminates the requirement that 2/3rds of senators voting can bring legislation to the floor.  Other Republican senators may try to exempt specific legislation, such as Voter ID, immigration, and some other legislation, exempt from the rule. 

AISD Facilities Input

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Politics
2:20 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Straus Elected House Speaker

The Texas House prepares to elect a speaker for the 82nd legislature
Ben Philpott/KUT

Republican Joe Straus of San Antonio has been re-elected as speaker of the Texas House by a 132-15 vote; two Republicans abstained. He fended off a challenge from conservatives who wanted to replace him with one of their own. Some conservative groups warned the speaker’s vote would serve as a litmus test for lawmakers’ performance at the end of the session.

News Brief
5:10 am
Tue January 11, 2011

Top Morning Stories January 11, 2011

The Texas legislative session kicks off today.
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

Watch the 2011 Legislative Session from Home

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