Top Republicans are signaling that lawmakers will likely carve out another lean state budget next year even though the Texas economy is humming along for now.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Friday that an estimated $9.4 billion in additional costs needed to keep up with rising population and demand is "sobering." Officials say most of that money will go toward covering education, Medicaid and prison health costs.
Dewhurst was back to work at the Capitol just three days after a stinging loss in his U.S. Senate runoff to tea party darling Ted Cruz. He declined to say following a Legislative Budget Board meeting what his political future holds.
The state comptroller's office projects the state economy to slow down next year due to national trends and the European financial crisis.
New DFW Connector Bridge Opens
A new Southlake Boulevard/Northwest Highway bridge over 114 opens this weekend. It’s part of the huge DFW Connector project.
Six lanes of the bridge will be open for the Monday morning commute. Later this year all nine lanes will open.
Bob Price, public works director in Southlake says the new bridge is going to be a big help to Southlake and Grapevine commuters.
The billion dollar Connector project is a remake of the congested interface of Highways 114, 121 and adjacent roadways just north of DFW Airport.
Construction is a year ahead of schedule and expected to be completed next summer.
BJ Austin, KERA News
FM1709 Bridge Opening 120803b
Dallas Police Shoot Hostage-Taker Suspect
A man shot by Dallas police Friday morning after a hostage standoff is in stable condition. It was the 15th officer involved shooting this year.
Early Friday morning police got a call about a man with a gun hitting people inside a home on Casa Del Sol Lane, near Ferguson and LBJ. A witness who had been in the house told officers the suspect was holding his ex girlfriend, a two year old, and another man hostage in a bedroom.
Officers, from outside, issued loud verbal commands to release the hostages. They were released unharmed a short time later. Police say the suspect went out the back of the house through the garage, saw police and pointed his gun at them. That’s when two officers fired.
Police say 27 year old Roberto Gabaldon was taken to Baylor where he is expected to recover. He’s now charged with Aggravated Assault-Family Violence and two counts of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer. The two officers are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.
BJ Austin, KERA News
South Dallas Community Group To Protest Police Shootings
Saturday, a group called Dallas Communities Organizing for Change plans a protest march through the South Dallas neighborhood where police shot and killed 31 year old James Harper ten days ago.
Harper ran from a known drug house, and repeatedly fought with a police officer during a foot chase before being shot.
An angry crowd of several hundred gathered in the Dixon Circle neighborhood and police in riot gear were called in to keep the peace.
The group is also pushing for creation of a new “Office of the Police Monitor” to independently investigate police shootings and possible civil rights violations. The group plans a petition drive to put the issue on the ballot.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Fort Hood suspect fined again for having beard
A military judge has again held the Fort Hood shooting suspect in contempt of court for showing up to a pretrial hearing with a beard he had been told to shave.
Maj. Nidal Hasan was fined another $1,000 Friday. The judge, Col. Gregory Gross, said Hasan would watch the rest of the hearing on a closed-circuit television in a nearby trailer.
The Army doesn't allow beards. Hasan's attorneys say his is an expression of his Muslim faith.
Last week, the judge held Hasan in contempt and fined him $1,000. He said Hasan would be forcibly shaved before his Aug. 20 trial if he didn't shave.
Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the attack on the Texas Army post.
Judge strikes down parts of voter registration law
A federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing five provisions of new voter registration laws that a national non-partisan group said make it harder to register people to vote.
Voting for America complained to the federal court in Galveston that the new laws unconstitutionally restrict voter registration drives from gathering public voter information. The new laws also limit who can hand out voter registration cards and who can collect the completed registration forms.
In a 94-page opinion filed Thursday in Galveston, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa blocked the state from enforcing most of those restrictions.
Secretary of State spokesman Rich Parsons says the ruling is being reviewed and no decision has been made on appealing.
GOP lawmakers say the new rules are necessary to prevent voter registration fraud.
Texas A&M-Texarkana president resigns
C.B. Rathburn II has resigned as president and CEO of Texas A&M University-Texarkana after four years on the job.
The Texas A&M University System made the announcement Thursday in a news release, adding that Rathburn will "remain in the Texarkana area and attend to personal matters."
The news release says Keith McFarland, a former president and member of Texas A&M University Commerce, will serve as acting president.
The system says Rathburn, named president of the university in July 2008, has overseen major developments in infrastructure and student population.
Rathburn previously was president and CEO of Savannah Technical College in Savannah, Ga. He has also served as president and CEO of Galveston College in Galveston.
Educator gets life without parole in sex assaults
A former computer assistant in a North Texas school district has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for having sexual contact with two students in the computer lab.
The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office says in a news release that 60-year-old James Carroll Glawson was sentenced Thursday after being convicted the day before of continuous sexual assault of children.
Prosecutors say Glawson was in charge of the computer lab at Foster Village Elementary School in North Richland Hills in the Birdville school district.