State sales tax revenue was up 12.2 percent last month in Texas.That's compared to receipts from the previous November. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced the figures Wednesday.
She says it marks the 20th consecutive month of revenue growth. Sales taxes are one of the largest sources of revenue for the state and a 2009 slump contributed to this year's state budget shortfall.
Combs says the numbers have improved in all major sectors, though receipts from the oil and natural gas industries are the strongest source of growth. Retail and restaurant sectors also showed strong increases.
The state collected $2.07 billion in November, based on October sales.
House Speaker Straus Expects Education Funding Changes Next Session
Texas House Speak Joe Straus expects changes in education funding during the next legislative session. About half the school districts in the state are now suing Texas, alleging the state failed to adequately pay for public education.
In Dallas to address a business group, Straus did not defend the current funding system. He says districts suing Texas is nothing new, and the legislature struggled with a huge budget shortfall before slashing education dollars in the Spring.
Straus: The pie has shrunk, there's no doubt about that. But funding for education - the actual dollars from our budget - increased. So is it enough? Maybe not, but is it all we could do in a difficult economy? I think it was.
Straus says there's more to education than funding, and urged parental involvement in their children's education. He also said he will announce appointments to an interim committee on education finance in several weeks.
Recent Texas rains a blip; lakes not filling
Weather officials say they considered reclassifying parts of North Texas into the least severe stage of drought but held off because recent rains haven't boosted lakes levels.
National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said Wednesday that bone-dry soil suffering from the state's worst single-year drought is sucking up the rainfall before it runs into reservoirs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and parts of northeast Texas.
Lake levels are a part of what weather officials use to decide drought-stage categories around the country each week.
Murphy says recent rains will help drought conditions in the short term, but the precipitation forecast for coming months remains bleak.
All lakes in the north central part of the state are down by double-digit percentages over a year ago.
Appeals Court Upholds Holy Land Convictions
The guilty verdicts and prison sentences in the Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial have been upheld by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Two of the five defendants convicted in the case are serving 65 year terms for money laundering, tax fraud, and funneling money to a U.S. designated terrorist organization, Hamas.
U.S. Attorney Sara Saldana says the appeals court ruling upholding the convictions cements her office's "unyielding resolve to prosecute those who provide financial support for terrorist organizations."
DFW Adds Jet Blue
Jet Blue is launching DFW International service in May.
The New York-based low-cost airline plans three daily round trips between DFW and Boston, starting May first.
Tickets go on sale next Tuesday.
The new service comes as DFW's largest carrier American grapples with bankruptcy.
American accounts for 85% of DFW flights. Airport CEO Jeff Fegan says DFW is please to welcome Jet Blue.