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Texas Press Association State Capital Highlights
Perry floats his national jobs plan in GOP debate
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 • Posted October 27, 2011

AUSTIN --- While on stage with other Republican candidates during the Oct. 18 presidential debate in Las Vegas, Gov. Rick Perry brought up his own jobs plan titled “Energizing American Jobs and Security.”

The plan, according to the Perry campaign, “is based on a simple premise: Make what Americans buy. Buy what Americans make. And sell it to the world.”

Presented as an alternative to the Obama Administration’s unpassed American Jobs Act, Perry’s idea is to open America to more energy exploration and cut back on regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency as a path toward the creation of more than 3 million jobs.

Perry’s fellow contenders for the GOP nomination voiced little disapproval, although his plan points toward clear benefits for energy infrastructure and resource rich Texas as opposed to most other states.

Now, in regards to the immediate employment situation in the Lone Star State, the Texas Workforce Commission on Oct. 21 reported a net gain of 15,400 jobs statewide in September.

The gain holds Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 8.5 percent in September, same as in August, and compares favorably with the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

Back to the Obama Administration’s American Jobs Act. According to the nonpartisan Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, “Congress is on the verge of cutting 150,000 out-of-work Texans off unemployment insurance unless it passes the (Obama) Administration’s proposal in the American Jobs Act to continue unemployment insurance extended benefits. Failing to continue extended benefits will leave Texas families without help and create a drag on the Texas economy.”

School finance suit filed

Last spring, the Texas Legislature passed school finance legislation that triggered a lawsuit filed by the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition on Oct. 11.

More than 250 school districts have joined as plaintiffs, alleging that property wealthy districts unfairly benefit from the legislation, while property poor districts are forced into heavier taxation.

Defendants named in the lawsuit are the State Board of Education, Education Commissioner Robert Scott and State Comptroller Susan Combs.

Similar lawsuits in the past have been settled by state court rulings based on the Texas Constitution’s requirement that the funding system must achieve a general diffusion of knowledge. Plaintiffs’ arguments hinge on the claim that school districts with unequal access to available revenues face a barrier that prevents them from performing their mission.

Interim charges are issued

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Joe Straus last week issued lists of interim charges to committees of their respective houses to get a jump on legislation to be considered in 2013.

Both leaders put extra emphasis on finding ways to address the extreme drought conditions and wildfires that have plagued the state this year.

A few samples of other matters to be studied: state agency budget reductions, driver’s license improvement, juvenile justice, border health services, border security, manufacturing capabilities, redistricting lawsuits, privatization of state services and homelessness.

Reminder about school buses

National School Bus Safety Week was Oct. 17-21. The Texas Department of Public Safety on Oct. 14 posted a reminder that state law prohibits motorists from passing any school bus that is stopped and has its flashing red lights activated.

A ticket for violating the law could cost up to $1,000. In 2010, Texas Highway Patrol troopers wrote 414 tickets for passing a stopped school bus; there were 762 crashes in Texas involving school buses last year; and in those crashes, one person died and 89 people had serious injuries, the DPS reported.

Governor places Series wager

Game One of Major League Baseball’s 2011 World Series was Oct. 19. Gov. Perry and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon placed traditional governors’ wagers on the outcome. Perry predicted a Texas Rangers win, putting up Dr Pepper and barbecue against Nixon’s ravioli, salami, frozen custard and a six-pack of Budweiser in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Early voting through Nov. 4

Texas’ chief elections officer, Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade, announced early voting for the Nov. 8 Constitutional Amendment election runs Oct. 24 through Nov. 4.

Voters will find 10 proposed amendments on the ballot. Go to www.votexas.org to read about each of them.

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