Opinion

Wed
20
May

Agreement on state budget evades House, Senate

By Ed Sterling

Tue
12
May

Conferees struggle toward budget compromise

For the Texas Legislature to accomplish its main purpose, the passage of a state budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 must be achieved. The five House and five Senate members of the Conference Committee on the budget, House Bill 1, have been working together since late April. They must angle their philosophical pathways to something mutually acceptable to take back to their respective chambers for consideration. Last week, however, no resultsshowing HB 1 conference committee report was published, so as yet, there is no document revealing stalematebreaking agreements on the $211 billion budget.

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Tue
05
May

House, Senate produce disparate versions of tax relief

Legislation approved by the House and Senate last week reveal widely differing views on how to bring about tax relief to Texans in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Speaker Joe Straus lauded the preliminary approval of House Bill 31, legislation to reduce the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent, resulting in a $2.66 billion revenue decrease, and House Bill 32, legislation cutting the franchise tax paid by many businesses by 25 percent and resulting in a statewide revenue decrease of $2.56 billion. Both bills were written by House Ways and Means Chair Dennis Bonnen, RAngleton, along with several members credited as coauthors.

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Tue
28
Apr

House, Senate state budget conferees roll up sleeves

By Ed Sterling

With barely more than a month left in the regular session of the Texas Legislature, it’s time for the House and Senate to do whatever can be done to reach an all-points agreement on House Bill 1, the state budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
 

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Tue
14
Apr

Letter to the Editor

Proposed Leverett water well The proposal pushed by Mayor Virdell and Aldermen Bryan Miiller and Todd Keller to construct the Leverett water well on Riley Mountain is a highly risky scheme. No firm cost estimate has been determined for the entire project. The mayor and two aldermen chose not to run for re-election and now, at the very end of their terms, are trying to jam this scheme through city council. Any decision regarding major cost for the taxpayers should be discussed and studied by the new mayor and council. the Leverett well as a private business venture, I doubt you would find many investors willing to put money into it including Aldermen Miiller and Keller.
 
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Tue
14
Apr

Senate passes bill to remake Public Integrity Unit

Statewide authority to investigate and prosecute public corruption would be moved out of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office under Senate Bill 10, legislation approved by the Senate on April 9. Sen. Joan Huffman, chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee, wrote the legislation under which the Texas Rangers, a division of the Department of Public Safety, would reestablish and support the state’s Public Integrity Unit and assume the initial investigatory role when a complaint is filed against a public official. Cases would be prosecuted in the county where a public official resides. “After more than three decades of accepting this cultural norm, the public has lost confidence in this tacit scheme, and Texas needs a fair and explicit process to hold wrongdoers accountable,” Huffman said.
 
Tue
31
Mar

House, Senate continue with key task: adopt budget

The House Appropriations Committee on March 24 unanimously approved the General Appropriations Act (House Bill 1) — the first hurdle toward passing a state budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
 
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Wed
18
Mar

Lawmakers seek to control elements of state spending

By Ed Sterling

Debates over the Texas House and Senate versions of the state budget lie ahead, and movement toward setting budget controls to blend into a final, agreed-upon budget for 2016-2017 emerged in low-numbered bills filed last week.

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Wed
11
Mar

Commissioners say no to revenue caps

By Erin Green

The Llano County Commissioners Court voiced its united opposition to legislation introduced in Austin which would put caps on the revenue brought in by property taxes. Llano County Judge Mary S. Cunningham said during the court’s meeting Monday, March 9, the bills before the Texas Legislature — Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 365 — would put limits on the amount of property tax brought in due to large increases in property values

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Wed
11
Mar

Senate bills set stage for tax, debt relief

By Ed Sterling

A trio of leading Texas senators, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, on March 5 jointly announced the filing of legislation they coauthored to cut taxes and pay off state debt. Patrick, who presides over the 31- member Senate, Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Senate Business & Commerce Chair Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler; and Senate Finance Vice Chair Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, each delivered brief statements.

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