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The Lead: Austin, Travis County Reconsider Economic Incentives

Good morning, Austin’s in for a sunny but cool day, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s KUT News’ top overnight stories:

"The City of Austin will soon consider changes to its economic incentives program, which aims to lure companies to move here. Tuesday, a City Council committee drafted recommendations about living wages, training and workers’ rights. The committee heard from workers and business leaders about the proposal to require companies pay workers at least $11 per hour to qualify for incentives."

"Texans who live in larger cities need to be very careful about how they buy their electricity, because they may be paying too much.  StateImpact Texas reporter Dave Fehling has been looking into prices that have been kept secret."

"The Lost Pines of Bastrop County were decimated by last year’s wildfire. But this week, the area will take a major step towards recovery as volunteers start planting nearly a half a million loblolly pine seedlings. For StateImpact Texas, KUT’s Mose Buchele reports."

"In its second year at Auditorium Shores, Fun Fun Fun Fest took off. Now the City of Austin puts that growth at $27 million – the amount the fest is estimated to have pumped into Austin’s economy. The mayor’s office announced Tuesday that the three-day underground music festival attracted a total north of 55,000 attendees."

And here’s more local stories from other outlets:

  • AMD Plans to Sell Texas Campus to Raise Cash (Reuters)
“Advanced Micro Devices Inc plans to sell and lease back its campus in Austin, Texas, to raise cash and fund its chipmaking business as it diversifies beyond the struggling PC industry into new markets. AMD expects to sell the 58-acre site for between $150 million and $200 million and close a deal in the second quarter, company spokesman Drew Prairie told Reuters on Tuesday.”

  • Travis County to Require $11 Hourly Wage For Incentive Deals (Statesman)
“Austin labor leaders declared Tuesday a milestone, after Travis County leaders decided to require any company looking to move to the county and asking for a tax break to pay all employees at least $11 an hour — including construction workers — and city officials made a similar recommendation. The prevailing hourly wage for construction workers in Austin is about $7.50.”

  • District Judge Grills AISD Superintendent on School Finance (YNN)
“[AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen] reiterated to Judge John Dietz why cuts during the last legislative session, the district's ever-changing demographics and its growing population are a formula for failure without more money. When asked whether AISD was currently able to provide students with an adequate education, Carstarphen answered, ‘With these dollars that we have today, well, the answer is no.’”

  • ACC Offering Social Media Degree (KXAN)
“Starting in the Spring 2013 semester, ACC will offer the first associates degree in Texas for Social Media Communication. Educators say there's a need. ‘We designed a program that really revolves around these core skills that businesses are stating that businesses are stating that they need,’ says ACC adjunct professor Jill Brockmann.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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