Edgar Walters, Texas Tribune

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Edgar Walters is a reporter with the Texas Tribune.

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Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

DALLAS — Nearly four years after a federal judge first ruled that Texas violated foster children’s civil rights by placing them in a system where rape and over-medication were the norm, it’s high time for the state to stop dragging its feet and start making changes, that same federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature on Sunday advanced a $250.7 billion two-year budget, ending weeks of deliberation over how much money to spend on the 2019 legislative session’s two highest priorities: public school funding and property tax relief.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, has tried to kill several bills this session.
Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

A major mental health bill prioritized by the state's top leaders as a way to help prevent school shootings was partially revived late Tuesday night hours after it appeared to have been abruptly killed on a technicality during a dramatic night in the Texas House. 

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday approved a two-year, $248 billion spending plan that includes $2.7 billion for a nebulous goal of property tax “relief” — but with seven weeks left in the 2019 legislative session, the upper chamber has yet to rally behind a way to spend those funds.

Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, talks with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Wednesday, as the House took up the budget debate.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

In Dennis Bonnen’s first major test as speaker of the Texas House, the chamber he oversees resoundingly passed a $251 billion budget Wednesday after a long but largely civil debate — a departure from the dramatics that have typically defined such an affair.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House is scheduled to debate its $250 billion budget Wednesday — and possibly into Thursday morning. It marks the full chamber’s last chance to change House Bill 1 before House leaders begin private negotiations with the Senate on 2020-21 funding priorities.

The Texas Tribune

At a time when legislators are vowing to spend more money on public schools and slow the growth of Texans’ property tax bills, the state should have enough money at its disposal to do just that.

That is, if its newest predictions hold true.

Illustration by Jacob Villanueva/Laura Skelding

On Oct. 17, Brenda Brantley, an employee at Texas' Health and Human Services Commission, was in her second-floor office at the agency’s Austin headquarters when she received an unexpected visitor.

The beady-eyed infiltrator — a brown rat of the species Rattus norvegicus — scurried down the carpeted hallway before ducking behind a filing cabinet, employee correspondence shows.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

In her first public appearance since being cleared of criminal charges, state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, said Tuesday she had been maligned by the Travis County district attorney, other Austin-area Democratic lawmakers and the news media.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Prosecutors dropped one of their felony charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on Wednesday, acknowledging that their case against the Austin Democrat has weakened since a grand jury indicted her on that and 12 other felony counts earlier this year.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state’s two-year budget Monday, giving his approval to the $217 billion document crafted by the Legislature.

The Texas Tribune

Both chambers of the Texas Legislature voted Saturday evening to approve a $217 billion, two-year budget that would boost funding for the state's beleaguered child welfare agency, increase the number of state troopers on the Texas-Mexico border and avoid serious reforms to the state's much-criticized school finance system. 

Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, accused of misleading a former client who invested in a company in which Uresti has a financial stake, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 charges over his involvement in the alleged investment Ponzi scheme, one of two separate indictments issued Tuesday. 

CSIS

Texas’ top health care fraud investigator resigned Wednesday night under pressure from the governor, the result of media inquiries that revealed Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen was moonlighting for a private firm that provided services for the government of Iraq.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

The Texas House on Thursday approved a proposal that would phase out an unpopular business tax that provides funding for public schools.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

After 15 and a half hours of debate on hundreds of amendments to the Texas House budget, lawmakers in the lower chamber passed the two-year, $218 billion document, with 131 votes in favor and 16 votes against.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate unanimously approved a two-year budget on Tuesday that would shift nearly $2 billion in public education costs from the state to local taxpayers.

The Senate's $218 billion document now goes to budget writers in the House for debate.

Bob Daemmrich

FBI and IRS agents raided the San Antonio law offices of state Sen. Carlos Uresti on Thursday morning — confiscating documents and other items.

A law enforcement source told the San Antonio Express-News, which first reported the raid Thursday, that it was connected to Uresti’s involvement with a now-bankrupt fracking sand company that he held a financial stake in.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman/Paul Hudson

Texas House and Senate leaders unveiled dueling budget proposals — starting nearly $8 billion apart — in separate moves Tuesday that foreshadowed remarkably different priorities in the two chambers during a legislative session that promises to be even more tightfisted than usual. 

Texas Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson on Tuesday proposed a $213.4 billion two-year base budget.

Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune: Facing sluggish economic forecasts amid low oil prices along with billions in tax revenue already dedicated to the state highway fund, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Monday that lawmakers will have $104.87 billion in state funds at their disposal in crafting the next two-year budget, a 2.7 percent decrease from his estimate ahead of the legislative session two years ago.

Casey Chapman Ross/Texas Tribune

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Tuesday that lawmakers in the Capitol’s lower chamber would seek to restore funding for disabled children’s in-home therapy services during the upcoming legislative session, potentially reversing the state's course in an emotionally fraught, year-long legal battle.

“It did not work, and it will be addressed in the supplemental budget,” Straus said of the payment cuts. He said the cuts were “well intentioned” but that “maybe they were a mistake.”

Callie Richmond

From the Texas Tribune: More than a year after lawmakers originally ordered it, Texas quietly announced Monday it will enact significant cuts to the money that it pays therapists who treat vulnerable children with disabilities in two weeks.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

From the Texas Tribune: Faced with a rising death toll from opioid abuse, Texas public health officials in May decided to apply for a $1 million federal grant to purchase Naloxone, a drug that, if administered during an overdose, can save the life of a person addicted to heroin or pain pills. 

Texas Tribune

On any given day in the last six months, nearly a thousand of Texas' "highest-priority" children — considered by the state to be at immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse — were not checked on even once by Child Protective Services investigators.

Another 1,800 of those kids were seen by investigators, but not within the required 24-hour window following an urgent report of possible abuse or mistreatment.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

 A significant cut to the amount of money Texas pays therapists who treat children with disabilities was finally cleared to take effect — more than one year after state lawmakers originally ordered it — when the Texas Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear a lawsuit over the budget cut's legality.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas lawmakers on Thursday revisited the fate of a $150 million cut in state funding to Medicaid payments for disabled children’s therapy made in 2015 — though the outcome of that cut remains uncertain as a legal battle over its legitimacy remains before the Texas Supreme Court.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

With federal funding to fight Zika stuck in Congress, and amid news that mosquito-to-human transmission of the virus has reached the continental U.S., Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women, in the hopes of preventing the disease.

From the Texas Tribune: Texas' top Senate Republicans on Monday upped the urgency on federal policymakers to do something about the Zika virus.

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