AUSTIN - About 370,000 employers in Texas will receive an estimated $170 million in surplus state tax credits next year, Gov. Rick Perry said.
A strong Texas economy pushed the state Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund to a $376.7 million surplus, Perry announced Oct. 9.
For the second year in a row the trust fund's ceiling has been exceeded, enabling the state to return excess taxes back to employers, Perry said.
Eligible Texas employers filing quarterly unemployment tax reports will receive a tax credit beginning with their first quarter 2008 tax return.
To receive the credit, employers must meet eligibility requirements, including having payroll during 2007 and having paid all taxes due.
Report details water pollution
Goals of the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 are to eliminate discharge of pollutants into waterways and make those waterways safe for swimming and fishing.
But in 2005, more than 53 percent of industrial and municipal facilities across the state discharged more pollution into waterways than their Clean Water Act permits allow.
That statistic comes from "Troubled Waters: An Analysis of Clean Water Compliance," a new report released Oct. 11 by Environment Texas, an Austin-based non-profit.
"As the Clean Water Act turns 35, polluters continue to foul our rivers, lakes and streams," said Brad Hicks of Environment Texas. "With so many facilities dumping so much pollution, no one should be surprised that more than half of Texas waterways are unsafe for swimming and fishing. But we should be outraged."
Environment Texas used the federal Freedom of Information Act to obtain data on facilities' compliance with the Clean Water Act between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2005. Environment Texas researchers found that:
• Texas had 318 facilities, more than any other state, report exceedances of their Clean Water Act permits. These facilities reported a total of 1,340 exceedances.
• Facilities in Texas often exceeded their Clean Water Act permits by extraordinary amounts. On average, facilities exceeding their permits did so by 143 percent, nearly 2.5 times the legal limit.
• Polluters in Texas reported 64 instances in which they exceeded their Clean Water Act permit by at least 500 percent over the legal limit.
"Over the last three and a half decades, this landmark environ-mental law has made significant improvements in water quality, but the original goals have yet to be met," according to Environment Texas.
Investor group purchases TXU
Dallas-based TXU Corp. on Oct. 11 announced its merger agreement with Texas Energy Future Holdings Limited Partnership, a group of private investors who reportedly paid $32 billion.
The power company is now doing business as Energy Future Holdings Corp. Shares of TXU common stock ceased trading at the close of the market Oct. 10 and will be delisted.
Plans are in place for retail residential customers to receive rate reductions.
Donald L. Evans of Midland, who served as U.S. secretary of commerce for four years under President George W. Bush, has been named non-executive chairman of EFHC.
Complaint filed against judge
Twenty attorneys from different areas of Texas filed an official complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, requesting that it investigate Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
At issue is the judge's decision not to keep courthouse doors open past 5 p.m. so that attorneys could file an emergency request to stay the Sept. 25 execution of Texas death row inmate Michael Richard.
Coffer totals more than expected
On Aug. 31, the last day of fiscal year 2007, Texas had more money in its treasury than expected.
Comptroller Susan Combs reported the state had $8.5 billion, $1.5 billion more revenue than she had projected.
She attributed this to an increase of almost 11 percent for the year in state sales and use tax collections.
The $1.5 billion may sound like a lot, but it represents only 1 percent of the state's $152 billion budget for fiscal years 2008 and 2009.