News

AUSTIN — State employees are set to see an increase in how much they contribute to their retirement plans — a move lawmakers say would shore up the chronically underfunded Employee Retirement System of Texas.

Courtesy The U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

AUSTIN — A former border security contractor in Texas says there was “spying on Mexico” during aerial surveillance missions and urged caution with state officials over that disclosure, though state security officials said the wording was a mischaracterization of the operation, a newspaper reported Monday.

The “spying” reference was contained in a November 2010 report to the Texas Department of Public Safety during a period of heightened border violence, and obtained by the Austin American-Statesman.

Abrams Learning and Information Systems, which the state hired in 2006 to bring military know-how to state border security efforts, told state officials in the memo that they “need to be careful here as we are admitting to spying on Mexico.”

Ralf Berger / Wikimedia Commons

AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is ending its practice of giving ringside seats to boxing matches and other combative sporting events to lawmakers and agency employees.

The San Antonio Express-News reports the practice is being halted after ethics concerns were raised at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Lobbyists are normally required to report gifts to the Texas Ethics Commission when they are given tickets to sporting events, but the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is under no such obligation.

William Kuntz, the agency’s executive director, sent a memo restricting who could be allowed to sit in ringside seats after state Sen. Larry Taylor, a Republican from of Friendswood, brought up the issue at a Senate Finance panel hearing in February.

Ryan E. Poppe

The head of public education for the Texas House has a plan for changing the state’s school finance system and boosting per pupil spend at most schools. On Tuesday, a legislative committee will debate the impact of the bill and how Texas currently funds schools.

The last time the Legislature adjusted the per pupil funding formula was in 1991, but since then, the number of families in the state has nearly doubled. That’s one of the reasons why, in 2014, a state judge ruled in favor of school districts that sued the state over the state’s school finance system.

House Public Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, a Republican from Killeen, has introduced a bill that attempts to change how much the state is spending per student. It adds an additional $2.2 billion to the total formula and changes how much money comes back to high value property districts. But Aycock isn’t coy about the fact that not every district will see a large increase.

courtesy Scott Simon

Scott Simon hosts NPR’s Weekend Edition program, and was in town over the weekend for the San Antonio Book Festival. But while he came to speak about his recent book, the biggest reason he came was because of who the invitation came from.  

"President Slocum, who was the President of National Public Radio, and just a great person, and she kind of warmed up being President of NPR for being President of Texas Public Radio, asked me."

He’s talking about Joyce Slocum—TPR’s Joyce Slocum--who used to run NPR.

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