Gov. Rick Perry

Ben Philpott, KUT News

As Texas’ longest serving governor, Rick Perry isn’t accustomed to losing. But in January, the onetime front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination abandoned his bid and went back to Texas.

Perry entered the Republican fray in August of 2011, quickly becoming a top contender for the nomination.  But between a series of punishing debate performances – culminating with that famous “Oops” moment that made Perry Texas Monthly’s 2012 Bum Steer of the Year – Perry couldn’t capitalize on his early momentum.

Michael Stravato, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday indicated he would support a prospective "fetal pain" bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Speaking at the Source for Women, a pregnancy crisis center in Houston, he said his goal "is to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past." 

The measure is being championed by Texas Right to Life, a state-based anti-abortion group, but a bill has not yet been filed. The group's director, Elizabeth Graham, said the measure her organization backs would include exceptions for women whose lives are in danger, but not for victims of rape or incest. "Those decisions for children who are conceived in rape or in incest will need to be made prior to the 20-week mark," she said.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The billions of dollars in incentives that Texas hands out to businesses each year are set to draw fresh scrutiny this week on the heels of a New York Times series that raised new questions about the practice while also ruffling some feathers.

On December 3, the Times devoted Part 2 of its three-part “United States of Subsidies” series to Texas. The article alleged that the state gives out $19.1 billion a year in business incentives, far more than any other state. (Disclosure: The Texas Tribune has a content partnership with The New York Times.)

Abilene Christian University

Jeffrey Boyd will become the newest Texas Supreme Court justice, an appointment that scrunches the foreheads of Rick Perry critics who think it odd that the governor would name his chief of staff to the state’s highest civil court.

It’s the latest brick in a wall Perry has been building for a dozen years — a period that has seen him appoint 224 Texans to state district and appeals court judgeships.

His hold on the executive branch is well documented and regularly noted; Perry has been in office long enough to twice go through the entire cycle of six-year executive appointments.

Williams photo Texas Education Agency; Perry photo Gage Skidmore

For the second year in a row, end of course exams won’t necessarily count toward 15 percent of a students’ final grade.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced today that school districts will be allowed to apply for a waiver to the rule for the 2012-13 school year.

“You know we have to recognize that we are only in the second of the accountability system and the first year of testing,” Williams said. “There probably is some wisdom in saying, ‘Pump your brakes.’”

KUT News

Governor Perry announced his intention Tuesday to launch a Skilled Workforce Initiative in Texas to address demand for certified, highly-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.

The initiative would reduce the time it takes for students to earn vocational certification in certain high-demand fields, such as manufacturing and industrial business. Under the initiative, certification programs will award credit to students who enter the program already possessing some experience and skills necessary for certification.  Backers hope the program will allow students to get certified and begin filling jobs more quickly, while also saving them time and money by allowing them to bypass lessons on subjects they’ve already mastered.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

By the end of the year, a few Texas school districts may have access to millions in funding that Gov. Rick Perry had passed on two years ago because of concerns about federal intrusion into Texas classrooms.

Since Texas refused to participate in Race to the Top at the state level in 2010, the Obama administration has rolled out a new version of its signature education program to allow districts to apply individually for a separate pot of about $400 million in federal money. Administration officials announced the new round of competition that would emphasize data-driven personalized student learning plans in 2011, after three phases of the state-based contest.

Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

Jeff Boyd, chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, is the governor’s choice for an open spot on theTexas Supreme Court.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

It wasn't a great election cycle for Texas Governor Rick Perry. After bursting on to the scene in August 2011 and racing to the top of the crowded GOP presidential field, it was a steep and speedy slide to the bottom of the heap.

Gov. Perry finally dropped out of the race just days before the South Carolina primary.

The Washington Post's political blog, "The Fix," noticed: It named Perry the "Worst Candidate of 2012."

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Ahead of a Friday deadline to decide, Gov. Rick Perry's office has reaffirmed that Texas will not implement a major tenet of federal health reform — a state-based online marketplace for consumers to purchase coverage.

That means the federal government will have to roll out a program for Texas instead. Every state must have an exchange by 2014, the year “Obamacare” — which many Republicans had hoped would be repealed if Mitt Romney won the presidency — requires most Americans to carry coverage.

Allison Castle, Perry’s spokeswoman, said Texas won’t design its own exchange because there is “really no such thing as a ‘state exchange.’”

Erik Reyna for KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is holding another press conference this afternoon to discuss possible changes to welfare and unemployment insurance – including the possibility that so called "high-risk" recipients be required to take drug tests.

Today Perry will stand alongside State Sen. Tommy Williams in Conroe to once again talk about his support for a bill filed this week. It's an issue Perry has pounced on and appears to be making a priority for the 2013 Legislative Session. Just yesterday, Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst held a rare joint press conference yesterday to praise the bill filed by State Sen. Jane Nelson.

Now, a state representative from Beaumont is throwing the bill's supporters a challenge. State Rep. Joe Deshotel wants Perry, Dewhurst and Nelson to support adding a drug test requirement to the application to run for state office.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry has given his support to a bill that would have recipients of unemployment benefits submit to drug tests. Those failing a test would be denied benefits for 12 months, or until they completed a drug treatment program.

Gov. Perry told reporters every dollar the state takes from its people and spends counts, which is why he’s pushing lawmakers to pass legislation creating the drug testing program.

"Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can’t go to a Texan who needs it for housing for childcare or for medicine," Perry said.

KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst are holding a joint press conference this morning about possible changes to welfare and unemployment insurance.

Monday was the first day Texas lawmakers filed bills for the 2013 Legislative Session.

A Republican State Senator from Flower Mound filed a bill that she says would strengthen work and job training requirements under welfare. State Sen. Jane Nelson says the bill would also institute some drug testing for so-called "high-risk participants" and tighten rules to prevent welfare funds from being used for alcohol and tobacco.

Update: 1:25 p.m.:

Planned Parenthood isn't giving up the legal fight over whether the state can ban its clinics from the Women's Health Program.

In a lawsuit filed today in state court, Planned Parenthood claims the “Affiliate Ban Rule” that bars its clinics from the program is "invalid" under state law.

Original Story: 6:43 a.m.:

Governor Rick Perry says the state is moving to immediately to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood.

The announcement came after a federal appeals court said Thursday it will not reconsider a decision that says Texas can withhold funds under the Women’s Health Program.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

The question emerged the moment Gov. Rick Perry ended his 2012 presidential campaign: Would he run for governor again in 2014?

So far, Gov. Perry has deflected the question by saying he won't make an announcement any sooner than June 2013 – once the upcoming legislative session is finished.

But earlier this week one of the Governor's advisors, former state senator Ken Armbrister, told a crowd at the University of Texas that Perry would be running again in 2014.

The governor's office quickly knocked down that assertion, saying Perry is the only person who will be make that announcement. And Perry’s office reiterated, once again, that any announcement won't come any sooner than June.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Ken Armbrister, Gov. Rick Perry’s legislative director, told a crowd on the University of Texas at Austin campus Tuesday that his boss had told him he had decided to run for re-election in 2014 — a definitive statement that seemed to put to rest speculation over the longest-serving Texas chief executive’s future.

But a spokeswoman for Perry quickly rebuffed the statement from her colleague, saying “the only person to make that announcement is Governor Perry.”

“He has said multiple times he will make [the decision] after the legislative session,” Catherine Frazier said. “That door is open. He wants to keep doing what he’s doing. But he’s not going to make an official decision now.”

Jerod Foster for Texas Tribune

Ashton Curlee, the ambitious daughter of two teachers, received official notification of her acceptance to the new Texas Science Scholar Program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on the first day of college.

“It’s a really awesome program,” said Curlee, a native of Monahans. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes along with it.”

Savings top that list. If Curlee stays on track, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 30 hours of course work each school year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016. Instead of paying more than $6,300 per academic year in tuition and fees — the current cost for a regular student — Curlee will pay $2,500 per year.

That adds up to a $10,000 degree, a notion that has taken on grail-like status in some Texas higher education circles as the state struggles to address rising tuition at its public universities.

KUT News

According to the Texas Tribune, Governor Rick Perry is downplaying the effects of his previously publicly unknown sleep apnea

Perry’s office released a statement to CNN on Sunday, confirming that the governor indeed had the sleep disorder, but had been diagnosed and treated during the campaign.

But on Thursday, Perry blamed pain resulting from back surgery in 2011 as keeping him awake.

“My issue was one of a hyper-fusion of that nerve in my foot that kept me awake,” Perry told The Houston Chronicle.

Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he'll call for a four-year college tuition freeze. The comment was made at a Q&A session with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend.

In the interview, Perry proposed that students who enter college as freshmen could lock in a four-year tuition rate, says Texas Tribune Reporter Jay Root, who live-blogged the event. However, if a student takes longer than four years to graduate, he or she could face tuition increases.

Perry also said he is open to an “open and vigorous debate” about in-state tuition costs and supported providing in-state tuition for some children of undocumented immigrants.

Perry's announcement came just a day before The Dallas Morning News announced that Texas students are paying 55 percent more for tuition and fees at state universities than they were a decade ago. According to the analysis, tuition has increased three percent this year alone.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

As the Austin forecast calls for more 100 degree days, Governor Rick Perry and his wife Anita left this morning for eight days in Italy, where money and motorsports are in the wind.

On the agenda are various economic development meetings, a speaking engagement at Lake Como, and Sunday's Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, in Milan.

With Austin's United States Grand Prix only a few weeks away, the Perrys will be watching a sport that's followed, often obsessively, around the world, but that has had about as much traction in the United States as professional soccer. (see Esquire: "Will America Ever Catch The Formula 1 Bug?") The United States has hosted 41 Formula 1 races in the past, at seven different locations, but the sport has not gained ground on American motorsports like NASCAR and IndyCar racing.