The Lead
8:57 am
Tue March 5, 2013

The Lead: ABIA and the Sequester, Spring Break, Warrant Roundup

A security checkpoint at Austin-Bergstrom. Sequester cuts are expected to have less impact on lines than a flood of SXSW visitors.
KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says a Red Flag Warning in effect until 8 p.m. today. The windy, dry conditions mean a high risk of fire in Central Texas. The Travis County Fire Marshal is asking everyone to be careful and to avoid doing things like mowing, welding and outdoor cooking.

Lead Story: The nation is three days into those across-the-board federal budget cuts called the sequester.  And the Secretary of Homeland Security says some of the nation’s bigger airports are already seeing security-line waits up 150 to 200 percent because of immediate cuts to overtime pay.

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1:08 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Napolitano: Airport Lines Have Seen '150 to 200 Percent' Increase Since Sequester

People wait in a security line at John F. Kennedy Airport on February 28, 2013 in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:50 pm

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect on Friday are already causing headaches at the nation's airports.

"Now that we are having to reduce or eliminate basically overtime both for TSA and for customs, now that we have instituted a hiring freeze... we will begin today sending out furlough notices," Napolitano said, according to Politico.

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The Lead
8:57 am
Mon March 4, 2013

The Lead: 10-1 Review Panel Drawing, Texas' Sequester, Austin’s Kite Festival

The high-flying scene at Zilker Park on Sunday.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning. Central Texas is under a hazardous weather outlook due to warm temperatures and dry, gusty winds, per the National Weather Service. The winds will continue tomorrow, but in the form of a cold front – meaning today’s unseasonable highs in the mid-80s will drop into the 60s Tuesday.

Lead Story: As the City of Austin initiates the process of drawing single-member city council districts, City Auditor Kenneth Mory is hosting a public drawing today to select the city’s first Applicant Review Panel.

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4:17 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

U.S. Customs Says Sequestration Cuts Will Hobble Border Trade

Rep. Pete Gallego

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 2:13 pm

If Congress isn’t able to avoid the automatic $2.4 trillion budget cuts of sequestration, then border protection and legitimate border traffic could suffer.

"Certainly, without question. If on March 1 -- if sequestration does happen -- the Border Patrol will have reduced capability," said Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher testifying at a congressional hearing on border security on Tuesday.

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The Lead
9:04 am
Tue February 26, 2013

The Lead: AISD Board Adds Bond to Ballot; Sequester’s Texas Impact

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams visiting with students at Eastside Memorial High School.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning! After yesterday’s high winds – which had gusts above 50 miles an hour and lead to widespread power outages – today looks considerably calmer. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for a sunny and mild day with a high in the mid 60s.

Lead Story: Big items were on the agenda at last night’s Austin school board meeting, including a multi-million-dollar bond proposal and the question of what to do with a struggling Austin high school.

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3:52 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Strama on Sequestration: Enormous Cuts to Texas

Texas could face millions in spending cuts if Congress does not pass a deficit reduction bill by March 1.

We’re just one week away from across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration” and State Representative Mark Strama (D-Austin) is warning of the impact it could have on Texas.

“If we have to suffer the cuts of sequestration on top of the cuts we just made last biennium, it would be really harmful to the state economy,” he said after a Friday press conference at the Capitol.

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1:01 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

In Wal-Mart's Earnings Report, a Lesson on the Tax Code

A Walmart store in Paramount, Calif. in November of 2012.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 12:31 pm

The New York Times points out something rather interesting about an otherwise mundane business story. Wal-Mart's fourth-quarter earnings report tells the tale of how changes in the tax code has both helped corporations and hurt them.

As the Times puts it, during the fourth quarter of last year, "the tax code gave and the tax code took away."

The paper explains:

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The Lead
8:45 am
Thu February 21, 2013

The Lead: Red Flag Warning, European Trade & Texas, State’s Most Endangered Places

Strong winds are expected to decrease by early evening.
National Weather Service

Lead Story: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Travis County late this morning through this afternoon, due to strong winds. Outdoor burning is strongly discouraged.

The warning is due to the critical fire weather conditions expected today: a pacific cold front bringing breezy winds and dry air to Central Texas. The warning will be in effect from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. You can find more information via the National Weather Service.

Texas Push for European Trade Deal:  Texas stands to benefit from a potential free trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union. That’s according to a study by Waco economist Ray Perryman.

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2:49 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Obama Pushes Congress to Avoid Automatic Cuts; GOP Says It's Not the Problem

As he pressed Congress for action Tuesday, President Obama stood before a group of first responders. He made the case that their departments will be hurt if automatic budget cuts go into effect March 1.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 10:54 am

Standing in front of first responders who he says could lose their jobs, President Obama pushed Tuesday for Congress to act now to avoid $85 billion in "automatic, severe budget cuts" set to kick in starting on March 1.

The cuts due because of the so-called sequestration "are not smart, they are not fair [and] they will hurt our economy," the president said.

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12:53 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Texas Education Could Get Hit Hard by Federal Sequestration

Texas public education could lose $517 million in automatic cuts.

Texas classrooms could be hit hard by federal sequestration cuts – automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal programs that will go into effect on March 1 if Congress doesn’t pass a deficit reduction bill.

In Texas, the largest cuts would happen to public education, with $517 million dollars automatically cut according to the Texas Education Agency.

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6:38 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Sales Tax Receipts Up in Austin

More sales tax means more economic activity.
Tracy Olson/Flickr

A fresh reading of the Austin economy suggests people are spending more money than they were a year ago. 

The state comptroller says sales tax receipts grew by 6.5 percent in January from the same month a year earlier. That was slightly more than the statewide growth of 6.1 percent.

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10:08 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Obama Calls For Small Package Of Cuts, Tax Changes To Head Off 'Sequester'

President Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:02 am

(We updated the top of this post at 1:30 p.m. ET.)

Looking to head off deep, automatic spending cuts set to kick in on March 1, President Obama on Tuesday afternoon said that to avoid the negative economic effects that come with "political disfunction," Congress should move quickly to pass "a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms" that won't hurt the economy.

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9:56 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Losses Are Actually Gains, And Other Weird Facts From The Jobs Report

bgottsab Flickr

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 12:25 pm

What's today's big jobs report say?

The U.S. economy lost 2.8 million jobs jobs in January.


Don't panic. The U.S. economy loses millions of jobs every January, in good times and bad, largely because tons of seasonal holiday jobs always wind down after Christmas.

So if you set aside the normal, seasonal stuff, how is the job market doing?

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12:39 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Half of All Texans Have No Savings

Not counting assets like homes and cars, half of Texans have no savings for emergencies.
Flickr user Images of Money,

State leaders routinely hail the "Texas Miracle" that's created one of the strongest economies in the country. 

Everyone mentions the growth and job opportunities across the Lone Star State, but a recent study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows that many Texans are striving on the edge of poverty.

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6:08 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Service Businesses Getting Less Optimistic

Restaurant and other service business owners worry that people will be spending less.

The Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas sees some signs that the Texas economy could be softening. The Dallas Fed’s monthly report on service businesses shows a decline in expectations about business growth.

Dallas Fed economist Jesus Canas says that there’s less optimism among service business owners than there was a year ago, and that’s mostly because of conditions in the national economy.

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12:57 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Union Membership Continues Decline; Now At Lowest Level Since 1930s

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 11:34 am

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says union membership continues to decline in the United States.

In 2012, American Union membership rate dropped to 11.3 percent from 11.8 percent in 2011. As The Washington Post reports, that's the lowest level since the 1930s.

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11:55 am
Wed January 23, 2013

House Passes GOP's Debt-Ceiling Plan; Senate Democrats Offer Their Support

The House of Representatives (Jan. 3 file photo).
Kevin Lamarque Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 1:01 pm

Update at 1:25 p.m. ET: By a vote of 285-144, the House just passed a Republican plan that postpones for three months the federal government's next bump up against the so-called debt ceiling.

As we said earlier, the measure would head off another big battle over raising the government's borrowing authority — such as the one in 2011 that almost led to a government shutdown.

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3:55 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

While Austin's Unemployment Rate Inches Up, Texas' Falls

Construction was the fastest growing industry in Texas in 2012.

Austin’s unemployment rose from 4.9 to 5 percent in December, while Texas’s overall unemployment dropped to 6.1 percent from 7.4 percent last year.

Mark Lavergne, spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission, said the change in unemployment in Austin is a slight change. What is more significant, he said, was the unemployment change in Austin and Texas in the past year. Austin’s unemployment has dropped to 5 percent from 6.1 a year ago, while Texas’s unemployment rate has fallen from 7.4 percent to 6.1 in the past year.

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12:32 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Lawmakers to Again Take Aim at Predatory Lending

Last session, legislators approved more oversight and tracking of payday lenders.
James Malone, Texas Tribune

Legislators this year will once again try to combat some short-term lending practices that critics say prey on poor Texans.

Credit access businesses, including payday lenders and auto-title loan businesses, have faced criticism for charging massive interest rates to customers seeking loans and no way to help pay them off. Last session, legislators passed a law that allows more oversight and tracking of these businesses, but a bill that would have addressed the so-called cycle of debt did not pass.

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4:10 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Austin No. 2 in Economic Growth

Tech is the main driver of Austin's growth, a report says.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Austin has come out on top, almost, in an economic ranking of U.S. cities.

The Milken Institute said Austin is the second best performing city, based on measures like job growth and wage increases. The study’s author, Ross De Vol, say technology is the region’s big wealth driver.

De Vol says what Austin needs to catch No. 1 city San Jose is more money for growing businesses.

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