Columns/Opinions

Wed
04
Feb

Budget-writing process begins in Senate committee

By Ed Sterling
 
AUSTIN — On Jan. 28 the main work of the Texas Legislature started when the state budget-writing Senate Finance Committee met at the Capitol. Financial figures for the committee to use as a guide come from the 10-member Legislative Budget Board, a permanent joint committee of the House and Senate that develops budget and policy recommendations for appropriations
 

 

Wed
28
Jan

Texas’ original crooner roared to life in the 1920s

By Bartee Haile
 
Gene Austin, the original crooner whose recordings sold 86 million copies in the Twenties and Thirties, lost his battle with lung cancer on Jan. 24, 1972. The popular singer and prolific songwriter was born Lemeul Eugene Lucas in 1900 in the north Texas town of Gainesville.
 

 

Wed
28
Jan

Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick take oaths of office in Austin

By Ed Sterling
 
AUSTIN — January 20 was inauguration day for Gov. Greg Abbott, successor to Rick Perry, who completed a record-setting 14 years as governor. Abbott is the 48th governor of Texas. Abbott expressed gratitude to the people who elected him and promised to “promote policies that limit the growth of government, not the size of your dreams.”
 

 

Wed
21
Jan

Gov. Perry gives parting speech

As 2014 came to a close, many reflected on the year that was – the losses and the low points, the highlights and the memories. Surely, 2014 saw its share of tragedy and hardship here in Texas. We sadly witnessed senseless acts of violence, such as the shooting at Fort Hood in April, which took the lives of three service members, wounded 16, and rocked a community still healing from the attack that occurred only five years ago.
 
Wed
21
Jan

Perry gives parting speech as legistative session begins

By Ed Sterling

 

Gov. Rick Perry addressed a joint session of the House and Senate for the last time on Jan. 15, opening day of the 140-day regular session of the 84th Texas Legislature. Before recounting various aspects of the state’s performance during his record-breaking tenure as chief executive, Perry said, “I have come here to reflect on what we have done together, and to say farewell. But most of all, to tell you it has been the highest of honors to serve as your governor for the last 14 years.”
 
Wed
14
Jan

Proposal would put contracts under increased scrutiny

By Ed Sterling

Signaling his intent to promote transparency and accountability in the 84th Texas Legislature, House Speaker Joe Straus on Jan. 9 announced that in the coming weeks the House would release a budget proposal designed to strengthen oversight of state agency contracts. The Legislature convenes Jan. 13.
 
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Wed
14
Jan

Look forward by looking back

By Lee Hamilton
 
Yet before we get worked up about what’s to come, we need to take a hard look at the Congress that just ended and ask a different question: Why was it such an abject failure?
 

 

Wed
07
Jan

Now it’s time to focus on growing the economy

by Lee Hamilton

No one who works full time should be poor in this country. Recent economic news has been broadly reassuring. Retail sales are strong, November saw the best job gains in three years, the federal deficit is shrinking, the stock market is robust, and the Fed is expressing enough faith in the economy that an interest rate bump next year is considered a certainty. Yet the public remains unconvinced. This is partly because perceptions haven’t caught up to reality. For many middle- and lower-class families, economic circumstances have not changed very much. Average wages, adjusted for inflation, have not risen in keeping with the good economic news. The median net worth of households is actually a bit less than it was in 2010, just after the official end of the recession — and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is wider than ever.

Wed
07
Jan

New mix of lawmakers, officials heading for Austin

By Ed Sterling

When the 84th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13 and oaths of office are administered, the political party split will be 21 Republicans to 10 Democrats in the 31-member Senate, and 98 Republicans to 52 Democrats in the 150-member House. The composition and leadership of committees, the flow of legislation through those committees and control of floor debate will be according to the wishes of new Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Houston and House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio. Straus is subject to reelection by his peers. He is expected to retain the rostrum and gavel for a fourth consecutive term, even if challenged by a subgroup within the Republican party.

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Wed
31
Dec

Texas’ big year for job creation

by Ed Sterling

2014 has been a banner year for job creation in Texas, according to government assessments. Drawing on figures calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Workforce Commission on Dec. 19 reported employers added 34,800 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in November, for a total of 441,200 jobs added since last year. “This broke the state’s previous record set in October, as the state’s annual job growth expanded to a new high for a fourth month in a row,” according to an agency news release, which also said, “even more Texans were employed in November as the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.1 percent in October, and down from 6.1 percent a year ago.”

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