El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for May 29th, 2009

NPT Capitol: state budget passes the House 142-2

The state budget just passed the House as amended by the Senate.

According to the Speaker’s office, it includes a $1.9bn increase in public education funding, $1.2bn increase in Higher Education funding, $264m to boost HE financial aid and an increase in $208m for community service operations benefiting “our most vulnerable disabled populations.”

It also includes $2bn in new bonds for more highways and around $12bn in federal stimulus funds.

A few El Paso specific items after the jump

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm

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NPT Capitol: House (Pickett) and Senate (Carona) negotiations get down to TxDOT local option tax

As House and Senate conferees put the final touches on the jointly hashed out TxDoT sunset bill, one sticking point remains — and it’s getting heated.

That sticking point is language that would give metropolitan areas the ability to call elections in order to authorize raises in automobile fees and gas taxes — in order to pay for transportation projects.

State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, says he has a list of 77 House members who are willing to vote for the TxDOT bill if it has the local option language in it.

That’s surprising, considering the House took a vote on leaving the language in earlier this week. It went down 86-59.

State Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, with a wry smile, said that number was “ambitious.” State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, went further saying that the 77 names Carona has simply aren’t there and that something “close to deceit” has been going on.

According to Pickett, lobbyists have been rounding up state Reps and asking them to sign a petition that asks the conference committee to keep the debate open. Those numbers are what Carona is touting, said Pickett.

It’s all getting a bit heated now. Carona said that the only thing in the way of getting this bill passed is Pickett. Pickett went outside of the chamber about an hour ago and openly argued with the lobbyists who were shopping for signatures.

This morning, at a rally on the Capitol’s southern steps, a Tarrant County Judge called for those who oppose the local option language to “get out of the way” while supporters chanted “let us vote!,” reported the Fort Worth Star Telegram. (Carona spoke at the rally.) According to the Austin Chronicle they were complemented by a “radical anti-tax crowd.”

More to follow…

Update: Things might have calmed down a little now. Isset and Carona are sat on a windowsill in the House chatting rather amicably. Meanwhile, Pickett and House Republican Caucus leader Larry Taylor are deep in conversation.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

NPT Biz: Hunt Building ranked as a ‘Housing Giant’

News release sent to NPT:


Hunt Building Company, Ltd., an affiliate of Hunt Companies, Inc., headquartered in El Paso, Texas, was ranked 23rd largest among the nation’s top 350 builders of housing in the 2009 Annual Report on Housing’s Giants issue of Professional Builder Magazine.

The magazine ranks Housing Giants based on revenue, and the listing consists of builders of single-family attached, single-family detached, and rental housing. The Hunt ranking is up 22 places from the publication’s 2008 rank of 45th. Hunt Building’s 7,558 new residential units completed in 2008 are up 3,360 units, or 80%, from the 4,198 rental housing units Hunt completed in 2007.

The Professional Builder’s annual report also names the Top 10 Builders of rental housing in 2008, in which Hunt is ranked #2. Both rankings are the highest ever achieved by Hunt in the magazine’s annual report.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT City: Castro and Robinson to debate Saturday


EL PASO – Voters will get one more chance to ask questions of the two candidates in the upcoming runoff election for Northeast city representative during a forum organized by the El Paso Press Club on Saturday.

Incumbent Melina Castro and challenger Carl Robinson have confirmed their attendance to the event, which is designed to give voters and members of the media access to the candidates.

The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 30 at the Northeast YMCA, 5509 Will Ruth.

Members of the media and the public are invited to attend and encouraged to ask questions of both candidates.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized