Austin’s 2018 bond package could be as high as $825 million according to preliminary estimates (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY
After last year’s bond focused primarily on mobility issues, City Council directed 2018’s bond to fund projects that not only address issues like flooding, affordable housing, high-capacity transit, parks, libraries and existing infrastructure, but that can be completed within a five-year period as well.
City staff came back with $3 billion in needs over the next five years for the directed areas but recommended a $640 million starting point for the 2018 bond.
An $825 million bond package is not the only option, however. Other preliminary estimates show a 1-cent tax rate increase would earn the city an opportunity to ask the voters for $575 million while the city could fund a $325 million bond with no tax rate increase...
As Columbus Goes For MLS Cup, Team Ownership Has Eyes On Austin (KUT) LINK TO STORY
The Columbus Crew is in the midst of a playoff run that could land the team in the Major League Soccer Cup. But rather than enjoy a great season, Ohio’s capital city and the Crew's ownership are at an impasse that could mean the team moves to Austin. That would be a dream for one fanbase and a nightmare for another...
Frustration mounts as city says there’s no explanation for water spikes (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
As soon as he saw his September water bill, O.T. Greer knew something was wrong. In the 44 years he’s lived at his house on Aspen Street in North Austin, he’d never seen a water spike like the one this fall when his bill jumped from $22 to $215 in a month. Greer and his neighbors pride themselves on water conservation. His yard is xeriscaped with cacti and rocks. He waters by hand, and he didn’t even do so in September, after he logged more than 10 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey...
College tuition in Texas is poised to climb slightly in 2018 (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
College in Texas will become a little more expensive in 2018.
Following a legislative session in which major funding cuts were considered, five of the state's six big public university systems have signaled an intent to raise undergraduate tuition for the 2018-19 school year — or have already approved increases. The sixth, the Texas Tech University System, hasn't made a decision yet.
The cost hikes will be modest, with few tuition bills rising more than 4 percent. Currently, the average tuition and fees at a four-year public university in Texas is $7,870 per year, slightly below the national average of $8,543...
Texas Republicans spar with White House over latest disaster aid request (The Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Texas Republicans on Friday panned the White House's latest disaster aid request, with Gov. Greg Abbott calling it "completely inadequate" for the state's needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
President Donald Trump’s administration was quick to respond, calling on the state to pony up its own dollars to help with the recovery.
Unveiled earlier Friday, the request seeks $44 billion from Congress to assist with the Harvey aftermath, as well as the recoveries from other recent hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. While not final, the number is far less than the $61 billion proposal that Abbott had submitted for Texas alone to Congress last month...
Texas AG Paxton rejects Romney standard from Roy Moore case (Politico) LINK TO STORY
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton isn't on board with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's approach to the allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. After Moore supporters said he was entitled to a presumption of innocence regarding claims that he had inappropriate contacts with teenage girls, Romney took to Twitter to say the standard used in criminal cases isn't the correct one to apply in the political realm. "Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," he said...
Trump Wants More Big Infrastructure Projects. The Obstacles Can Be Big, Too. (New York Times) LINK TO STORY
President Trump says he is frustrated with the slow pace of major construction projects like highways, ports and pipelines. Last summer, he pledged to use the power of the presidency to jump start building when it became bogged down in administrative delays. “No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay,” Mr. Trump said in August. In an executive order, the president directed federal agencies to coordinate environmental impact reviews for major projects with the goal of completing them within two years. Such reviews can often take four years and, in some cases, even longer...
Bobby Baker, String-Puller Snared in Senate Scandal, Dies at 89 (New York Times) LINK TO STORY
Bobby Baker, a onetime Senate page who, through his close ties to Lyndon B. Johnson and others, became one of the most influential non-elected men in the American government of the 1950s and early ’60s, only to be investigated for and eventually convicted of tax evasion and other crimes, died on Sunday, his 89th birthday, in St. Augustine, Fla...
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