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LEGISLATURE PASSES A 2016-17 CONSERVATIVE TEXAS BUDGET

Image: thechampionnewspaper.com

Before the 2015 Legislative Session, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the other 14 member organizations of the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition recommended a budget, shown in Chart 1, that increased the budget by no more than population growth plus inflation of 6.5 percent for the next two fiscal years.

This spending limit was not in statute. This was not in the Constitution. Critics claimed it could not be done.

But through the hard work of state leadership, members of the 84th Texas Legislature, and the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition, tax cuts were ……….. read more here.

by TALMADGE HEFLIN, VANCE GINN

Texas Concedes Case Over Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman

Almost a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quietly conceded a case against the federal government over medical leave benefits for certain same-sex couples.

Paxton and the attorneys general of Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Nebraska filed a voluntary dismissal on Friday with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas, where the states had sued the Obama administration over a rule change to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. That change was intended to grant time off to ……. read more here.

by Alexa Ura

 

First Disclosures Offer View of 2016 Texas Money Race

Photo illustration by Jacob Villanueva

The first major wave of presidential campaign finance disclosures is offering the fullest picture yet of what role Texas, long known for its deep pool of political cash, is playing in the 2016 money race.

The takeaways are as numerous as the Republican candidates flocking to the state to fill their campaign coffers. Some are predictable — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and former Gov. Rick Perry are leaning heavily on the state for campaign cash — but others are less expected, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s inroads with top donors despite having few ties to the …….. read more here

by Patrick Svitek and Ryan Murphy

The Brief: Legislature Says Some Abbott Vetoes Might Be Invalid

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to reporters at Texas Public Policy Foundation’s grand opening of new building on April 21st, 2015

The Big Conversation

The Legislative Budget Board wrote Tuesday that some of Gov. Greg Abbott‘s budget vetoes might not count.

The vetoes sought to delete certain “riders” attached to the budget, but LBB DirectorUrsula Parks wrote in a letter to the state comptroller that Abbott’s veto proclamation “seeks to go beyond what is authorized in the Texas Constitution [and] is in many respects unprecedented.”

The Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has more on the letter:

It says, in effect, that the governor vetoed items in the ……….. read more here.

 

by Polo Rocha

FINAL $4 BILLION TAX & FEE RELIEF PACKAGE PREVAILS

Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Governor Greg Abbott set the stage in his State of the State speech that he would veto any budget that didn’t include business tax cuts.

Table 1 shows the tax cut packages that dominated the discussion throughout much of the legislative session. The Senate’s initial package of $4.63 billion included business franchise tax and property tax relief. The House’s plan consisted of $4.9 billion with franchise tax and sales tax cuts.

With the leadership in the Texas Senate and House, the final package adds up to a historic $4 billion in tax and fee relief that includes:

  • Franchise tax cuts for a value of $2.6 billion:
    • Permanent reduction in both franchise tax rates by 25 percent, and
    • Increase in the cap to file the EZ form from ……….. read more here.

by TALMADGE HEFLIN, VANCE GINN

Jared Woodfill finally wins in HERO case

Photo: 

Congratulations to Jared Woodfill and team for their successful appeal to the Texas Supreme Court regarding Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s unlawful attempt to keep citizens from voting on her Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

From the opinion of the court:

We conclude that the Houston City Council has not performed a ministerial duty and there is no adequate remedy by appeal. Accordingly, we conditionally grant mandamus relief. Read more here

BY

BREAKING NEWS! Texas Supreme Court says city must repeal HERO or put it on ballot

Image: Facebook

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Houston City Council must repeal the city’s equal rights ordinance or place it on the November ballot.

The ruling comes three months after a state district judge ruled that opponents of Houston’s contentious non-discrimination ordinance passed last year failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum.

“We agree with the Relators that the City Secretary certified their petition and thereby invoked the City Council’s ministerial duty to reconsider and repeal the ordinance or submit it to popular
vote,” the Texas Supreme Court wrote in a per curiam opinion. “The legislative power reserved to the people of Houston is ………. read more here!

 

By Rebecca Elliott and Mike Morris

Paxton aide, prosecutor spar over whether case is ‘a political hit job’

Photo: Deborah Cannon/ Star Telegram AP

Ensnarled in an investigation that threatens his new administration, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said through a spokesman that his potential prosecution on state securities violations is a “political hit job” by “inexperienced” lawyers.

“This appears to be a politically motivated effort to ruin the career of a longtime public servant,” Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm said Thursday. “The Texas State Securities Board and the Travis and Dallas district attorney’s offices all ………… read more here.

Texas Attorney General Paxton, still under legal cloud, reports $2.5 million campaign balance

(Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton participates in an online password strength challenge with students during The Online Safety Roadshow at Leadership Prep School in Frisco, Texas Wednesday May 6, 2015.

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton maintains a healthy $2.5 million balance in campaign cash, even as the Collin County Republican remains under the cloud of potential prosecution on state securities violations.

A campaign finance report filed on Wednesday shows that Paxton raised $396,000 in the last nine days of June, a truncated fundraising period after this year’s legislative session. That kept his campaign stockpile at close to the $2.6 million he had back in January.

Given the period’s short span, it’s unclear how – or if – Paxton’s legal troubles might be affecting his fundraising abilities.

The attorney general’s totals pale in comparison to the hefty sums raised by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. But Paxton still pulled in a ………. read more here.

by Tom Benning

UT admissions abuse is 10 times bigger than Kroll’s depiction

Image: watchdog.org

The leadership of the University of Texas at Austin has buried the school in scandal with a sweep-it-under-the-rug approach.

At least 764 applicants initially denied admission to the University of Texas were admitted thanks to a backdoor program for the wealthy and politically connected administered by former president Bill Powers.

More than 200 of those applicants were admitted despite having their applications cancelled by the Admissions Office.

The total is more than 10 times the 73 applicants widely reported from an investigation paid for by the university and conducted by Kroll Associates. Kroll withheld the full findings from its 107-page final report.

Watchdog.org produced the final number by ………… read more here

By Jon Cassidy