AUSTIN — Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott on Sept. 1 made public the Texas Education Agency’s proposed budget cuts for fiscal years 2012-2013, in accordance with Gov, Rick Perry’s request for a 10 percent reduction.
If approved, the amount of funding for Texas public schools will be cut by than $260 million. Scott said the agency tried to limit the impact of the reductions by first proposing to eliminate programs “not related to the agency’s core mission, do not have significant statewide impact, or can be funded through other school district funding sources.”
Funding cuts are proposed for AVANCE, Texas humanities, steroid testing, extended year programs, rural school technology and science labs. (AVANCE provides support services to predominantly Hispanic families in low-income, at-risk communities.)
“Additionally,” Scott said, “the agency proposes a reduction to the Texas High School Completion and Success Initiative to eliminate duplicative programs and allow districts to use one funding source to support multiple research-based dropout prevention strategies.”
Holiday safety warning issued
Before Labor Day weekend, David Baker, head of the state Highway Patrol, asked Texans to choose wisely.
“We want the end of summer to be a memorable weekend, not your last one,” he said. “You can start by not drinking and driving, which is a sure invitation to tragedy and expensive legal bills.”
Baker said increased enforcement by the Texas Department of Public Safety other police agencies means the chance of getting a DWI or a ticket go up significantly on holiday weekends.
“Maybe that will make the choice even easier,” he said. Over Labor Day last year, troopers wrote 24,618 citations and thousands of warnings.
Census data, redistricting ahead
The Texas Senate Select Committee on Redistricting 2010 met Sept. 1 at the Capitol.
State Demographer Dr. Lloyd Potter told panel members the state’s population grew by an estimated 18.8 percent or 3.93 million from the last census in 2000 until 2009. Potter estimated the state population will be around 25.3 million when the final census figures are reported. This gain in population will translate to more seats in Congress for Texas.
Dec. 31 is the deadline for delivery of state total population data and the number of congressional seats apportioned to the states must be announced on or before Jan. 10.
On Jan. 11, when the 82nd Texas Legislature convenes, lawmakers will look forward to Feb. 15, the earliest likely delivery of census population data that they will use to redraw congressional and other district boundaries.
Tuition fund enrollment reopens
State Comptroller Susan Combs on Sept. 1 announced the beginning of the enrollment period for Texas Tuition Promise Fund 2010-11.
Families, assuming the price of a college education will continue to increase, enroll in the fund to lock in the cost of tuition and fees at Texas’ public colleges and universities.
Enrollment will end on Feb. 28, 2011. For parents of a second grader who want to prepay the average cost of one year at a Texas public university, the monthly installments are $90.96 per month over 10 years, Combs said.
Veterans loan program enhanced
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who also serves as chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board, on Aug. 30 announced a policy change that allows the surviving spouse of any Texas veteran killed in action an additional full 50 basis point discount on a home loan. Fifty basis points are equal to one half of 1 percent.
The benefit, which allows Texas veterans to borrow up to $325,000 on a 30-year home loan at a rate of 3.49 percent, previously was granted only to disabled veterans. The new discount can save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a typical 30-year loan, Patterson said.
List points out worst traffic snags
On Sept. 1, Texas Department of Transportation published a list of the top 100 congested segments of roadways in the state.
Going by county, Harris had the greatest number of congested segments with 35, followed by Dallas with 24, Bexar and Travis with 11 and Tarrant with 10.
State Capitol visitors take note: the stretch of Interstate 35 that goes through Austin, from State Highway 71 to U.S. 183, was rated the fourth-most-congested segment of road in the state. TxDOT calculated that slowdowns on that stretch result in 3.9 million annual hours of delay and estimated the cost of that much lost time at $84.4 million.