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Top Morning Stories May 12, 2011

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT
The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on some changes to its historic preservation tax program.

City to Vote on Changes to Historic Tax Program

The Austin City Council is voting on changes to its historic landmark tax exemption program today.  If approved, the city manager would be tasked with creating an ordinance that would include stricter requirements for designating homes and buildings historic landmarks. 

There would be a $2,500 cap on the property tax exemption for owners of historic homes. That would be implemented almost immediately for landmarks approved after January 1, 2010 and for all existing landmarks that have a change of ownership. 

The cap would be phased in for people who currently get a bigger tax break than the proposed cap. The city says it wants to make the changes to strike a better balance with the need for preservation and the need to bring in more tax dollars.

House Votes "No" on Bill To Limit Corporal Punishment in Schools

The Associated Press reports Republicans in the Texas House defeated a bill that would have required schools to get parental permission before using corporal punishment. Democratic State Representative Alma Allen had proposed the law. She said parents should have the right to determine how their children are punished. 

In Texas, each school district sets its own rules and guidelines for corporal punishment. Republican State Representative Wayne Christian said the bill would have tied the hands of teachers and administrators.

UT's Barnes Gets a Raise

UT's Head Basketball Coach Rick Barnes is getting a $200,000 raise.  Some are questioning the timing of the raise, considering the large state budget cuts UT is facing.  Here's what Kirk Bohls had to say in a commentary for the Austin American Statesman:

Rick Barnes got a raise Wednesday. On top of the raise he was already scheduled to get. You know why? Because Texas can, not because it should. Never mind that campus administrators are turning legislators' pants upside down to shake out change so they can continue paying faculty members and leave the lights on. Any austerity program doesn't extend to the athletic department. Arrogance knows no bounds. The raises suggest a blatant insensitivity at a time when our state's unemployment rate exceeds 8 percent and are an affront to all those currently out of work. The self-sufficient Texas athletic program with its $143 million budget bumped Barnes' annual salary to $2.4 million even though Barnes' teams haven't reached the Sweet 16 in four of the last five seasons, including this past one, and eight of his 13 years in Austin.