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Top Morning Stories May 18, 2011

Burnstein_Texas_Capitol_Dome_April_2007_2.jpg
Photo by KUT News.

House to Consider Key Budget Bills 

  The Texas Legislative session ends in less than two weeks and state lawmakers still haven’t reached complete agreement over the state’s budget for the next two years. Today, the House will take up two so-called “fiscal matters” bills. These bills delay payments and find non-tax revenue to help fill the state’s multi-billion dollar budget gap. One measure would delay a $2 billion state payment to schools.  

  House Approves Hog Hunting Bill

As the legislative session nears its end, bills are making their way to the Governor’s desk. One of them allows any licensed hunter, such as sport hunters, to contract with a landowner to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from helicopters on that landowner’s property. The Texas House gave final approval to the bill Tuesday. Right now only landowners are allowed to pay for helicopter hog hunts. 

Landowners say they want to expand the ability to hunt hogs from the sky because feral hogs damage wildlife, livestock and crops. KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, has some stats and graphs on hog hunting, check those out here.

AISD Seeking Bids for its Downtown Headquarters

The Austin American-Statesman is reporting the Austin School District is looking for bids for its  headquarters on Sixth Street and an administration building in Hyde Park.

"The district is facing and will continue to face budget issues, and it's just prudent that all options be reviewed, and this is one of those," spokesman Andy Welch said. The minimum bid will be $32 million for the Carruth Administration Center at 1111 W. Sixth St. and $7.5 million for the Baker Center, at 3908 Avenue B.   

Comptroller Raises Revenue Estimate

As Texas lawmakers continue to try to balance the state’s upcoming budget, the state comptroller is giving them a little more money to work with. Comptroller Susan Combs yesterday increased her state revenue estimate for the next two years by $1.2 billion. 

Combs said she is basing the increase on a strengthening economy.  Her office expects the sales tax, motor vehicle sales tax and oil production tax will bring in more money than initially estimated.