BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 11, 2019)
NEW -> Episode 52- The Internet of Things and Austin Tech Philanthropy with Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle (LINK TO SHOW)
Austin Approves $4.2 Billion Budget, Meaning Higher Taxes And More Spending On Homelessness Services (KUT)
The Austin City Council approved a record $4.2 billion budget Tuesday, directing more money toward services for people who are homeless and to hire more police officers.
The budget passed on a 10-1 vote, with Council Member Jimmy Flannigan the lone dissenter.
“We are not making good decisions for the long-term fiscal position of the city,” he said. “We can see charts that have deficits charted out three and four and five years, but we’ve done very little so far to adjust to that.”
City council passed a nearly 8% increase in tax revenue, going just up to the state-mandated line on annual increases. As a result, the owner of a home valued at the city’s median, or $353,265, will pay roughly $92 a year more in city property taxes.
At a preview of the budget in August, City Manager Spencer Cronk said the choice to collect more tax revenue is the city’s attempt to shore up funds in the face of a cap taking effect next year. The new state law will require any proposed tax revenue increase to be put to a vote if it exceeds 3.5%, as opposed to the current 8% limit… (LINK TO STORY)
Austin City Council Proposes Bringing Back Ban On Camping, Sitting Or Lying Down In Certain Areas (KUT)
Austin City Council members have presented plans to roll back city laws passed in June that effectively allowed camping, sitting or lying down in public. Council members will consider the changes, which limit that behavior at specific locations, at their Sept. 19 meeting.
Council members Ann Kitchen and Kathie Tovo debuted their plan this morning to prohibit camping or resting along high-traffic roads and in medians, though they would allow for camping under overpasses as long as there are "large flat areas ... set back from a roadway" a certain distance that will be determined by the Austin Transportation Department… (LINK TO STORY)
On second try, parks board OKs land use for Dove Springs health center (Austin Monitor)
A public health center requested by residents of the Dove Springs area for nearly a decade was given an OK by the city’s Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday, setting up the use of 2.6 acres of parkland to hold the facility.
The 8-1-1 vote, in which Francoise Luca voted against and Nina Rinaldi abstained, came roughly two weeks after the board delayed approval of the recommendation to City Council, which will take up the matter at its Sept. 19 meeting. Since last month’s meeting, the Parks and Recreation Department recalculated the amount of mitigation dollars that will be set aside to purchase replacement parkland in the area, with the $388,000 amount more than double what was previously proposed… (LINK TO STORY)
Beto O'Rourke names Texas staff for presidential campaign (Texas Tribune)
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is naming staff to help him win the Texas primary, an early move signaling his seriousness about competing in his home state.
The former El Paso congressman is set to name a Texas leadership team Tuesday morning, two days before much of the Democratic field heads to Houston for their latest debate. The team, first shared with The Texas Tribune, will be led by Delilah Agho-Otoghile, who most recently was field director for Stacey Abrams' 2018 campaign for Georgia governor. Agho-Otoghile has organizing experience both on presidential campaigns — she worked for Martin O'Malley and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 cycle — and in Texas, where she has held positions with Equality Texas and Battleground Texas… (LINK TO STORY)
Texas has the most people without health insurance in the nation — again (Texas Tribune)
The rate of Texans without health insurance rose for the second year in a row, making it once again the most uninsured state in the nation, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2018, 17.7% of Texas residents — about 5 million people — had no health coverage, up from 17.3% in 2017. Both years, Texas had almost double the number of uninsured people compared with the national average of 8.7% in 2017 and 8.9% in 2018. It was one of only nine states to record an increase in the uninsured rate.
Texas is one of 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid, a joint state-federal program that provides health care to low-income individuals, since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare. President Donald Trump made the repeal and replacement of Obamacare a major part of his 2016 campaign, but the U.S. Senate narrowly rejected a bill in 2017 that would have repealed parts of the ACA… (LINK TO STORY)
U.S. Census Bureau Reports Poverty Rate Down, But Millions Still Poor (NPR)
The U.S. poverty rate declined slightly last year, but finally fell below the 2007 level, right before the Great Recession pushed millions of Americans out of work and into financial distress.
The improving economy was a key factor in the decline. The U.S. Census Bureau noted in its annual report on income and poverty that there were 2.3 million more full-time, year-round workers last year and that median earnings for all such workers rose by more than three percent.
Amid these positive signs, the bureau reported separately that the number of people in the U.S. who did not have health insurance rose from 25.6 million people in 2017 to 27.5 million in 2018. That included 4.3 million children. Health advocacy groups called the increase extremely troubling and blamed declines in Medicaid coverage, especially for Hispanic children and children under the age of six… (LINK TO STORY)