New Report Shows Texas Tax System Skewed

By Eric Galatas

Texas News Service

AUSTIN, Texas – In order for Texas to meet its infrastructure and public works obligations — making sure bridges don’t collapse and schools and parks are open for business — costs need to be shared fairly among taxpayers, according to a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

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Texas Senate approves $211 billion budget

By Richard Lee

Senate Media Services

(Austin) The Senate passed its version of the state budget on Tuesday, approving  $211 billion in state and federal funds to pay for state services over the next two years.   Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, who led the Senate’s appropriation efforts, said the budget maintains the conservative philosophy of the past while meeting the needs of the future.  “This is a budget that will keep our state strong, prosperous and compassionate,” said Nelson.

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Fort Hood hosts Odierno for fourth virtual town hall

By Heather Graham-Ashley

III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas (April 7, 2015) — Near- and long-term changes in Army force strength, retirement and compensation were heavy on the minds of the 22 Fort Hood Soldiers, who addressed Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno during a virtual town hall held here, April 2.

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Most Wanted Fugitive Captured in El Paso County

AUSTIN – James Lee Matley, 40, a Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive, is now in custody after being arrested Wednesday in El Paso County. The Texas Chicano Brotherhood gang member was wanted for a parole violation. The arrest was the result of a tip, and a reward will be paid.

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Bill would strip Travis DA of corruption investigations

By Richard Lee

(Austin)  A bill that would strip the Travis County District Attorney’s Office of its authority to investigate and indict public corruption cases passed the Senate this week.   The bill by Southside Place Senator Joan Huffman would give investigation authority to the Texas Rangers at the Department of Public Safety, and the cases would ultimately be prosecuted in the accused’s county of residence.   Huffman told colleagues that a single county shouldn’t be in charge of trying cases involving people from all over the state.  “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,” she said.

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One in Five Texas Households Went Hungry in 2014

A new report from the Food Research and Action Center finds that one in six American households said there were times they couldn't afford to buy food in 2014, many relied on community food banks such as the one above. Photo credit: BotMultichillT/Wikimedia Commons.

A new report from the Food Research and Action Center finds that one in six American households said there were times they couldn’t afford to buy food in 2014, many relied on community food banks such as the one above. Photo credit: BotMultichillT/Wikimedia Commons.

One in Five Texas Households Went Hungry in 2014

By Eric Galatas

Texas News Service

AUSTIN, Texas – While Congress considers cuts to safety-net programs such as food stamps – now known as SNAP benefits – a new report by the Food Research and Action Center shows that millions of Americans still are struggling to put food on the table.

The study, “How Hungry is America?,” found that almost one in five Texas households went hungry at some point in 2014.

Even in an improving economy, said Celia Cole, chief executive of Feeding Texas, basic needs remain out of reach for too many people.

“It’s surprising, I think,” she said, “because I think most people think, well, we’ve come out of the recession, people should be doing better. And I think what we’re seeing from this study is that people at the lower end of the economic ladder continue to struggle.”

Texas ranked 16th among states with high levels of food hardship.

Cole said one in six American homes admitted there were times in the past year when they couldn’t afford to buy food. Ninety-eight of the largest 100 metropolitan areas surveyed reported food hardship.

In Texas, hardship rates were highest in San Antonio at 21.3 percent. Dallas and Houston fared a little better, where 18 percent of households lacked money for food.

The report warned that food hardship poses risks for children, working-age adults, people with disabilities and seniors. Going hungry also increases stress levels, it said, which is bad for health, learning and productivity. Cole said that drives up health costs for Texas families, employers and government.

“In the long run, with one in five families struggling to afford food consistently,” she said, “we’re talking about a significant economic impact on the state.”

The report’s recommendations to reduce the number of Americans struggling to find their next meal include a move toward full employment, strengthening wages and investing in effective programs, such as SNAP and school breakfasts.

The report is online at frac.org.

Senate approves changes to teacher training, evaluation

By Richard Lee

Senate Media Services

(Austin)  Prospective teachers would have a more rigorous path to the classroom and stronger continuing education under a pair off bills passed by the Senate Tuesday.  Forty percent of Texas public school teachers are certified under the alternative certification program, where people who have college degrees but didn’t study education can learn how to become classroom teachers.  Under current law, a candidate for alternative certification need only have a 2.5 grade point average and 15 hours of classroom training to get into a teacher preparation program.  Amarillo Senator Kel Seliger thinks those standards need to be higher.  “We need ever better, more motivated teachers,” he said.

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