TAB News Briefs
Jan. 25, 2011

Texas releases $45 million more for first-time homebuyer tax credit
HousingWire
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs recently made available a second round of funding for its first-time homebuyer tax credit program under its Texas Mortgage Credit Program. The state agency just released $45 million of $500 million allocated for the program. The department released $50 million of the funds in May when the program was first implemented.More

Rep. Neugebauer: Let foreclosures occur
Abilene Reporter-News
Abilene Rep. Randy Neugebauer said that letting the housing market bottom out and then start coming back will help remedy the budget woes of state and local governments. But the markets won't come back as long as there's a huge inventory of housing that no one knows what to do with, Neugebauer said Monday in Washington at a conference on housing finance reform. "A lot of these people — if they're not making their mortgage payment, they're probably not paying their taxes, either," said the Lubbock Republican, a former banker. "So it's a compounding impact."More

28 percent of Texas construction firms to hire in 2011
Houston Business Journal
Last year, 54 percent of respondents said they laid off workers, while only 18 percent added to their employee rosters. When asked about their spending habits, a majority of Texas firms — 64 percent — didn't buy construction equipment last year, and 73 percent said they won't buy this year.More

EPA official is the most feared environmentalist in Texas
Fuel Fix
Professor Al Armendariz did not become the top federal environmental regulator in Texas to work on the margins. He did not leave the classroom to sit back and enjoy the view from his downtown office, impressive though it may be. In the 14 months since his appointment, Armendariz has challenged the unique way Texas regulates industrial air pollution, pushed dozens of oil refiners and chemical and plastics makers to get new permits and picked fights over water quality.More

Texas Senate budget proposal would cut $28.8 billion
Texas Tribune
The Senate's version of a starting state budget is, at $158.7 billion, $2.3 billion bigger than the House's, but still would chop overall state spending by $28.8 billion, or 15.4 percent, from current levels.More

Dewhurst names Senate Finance Committee
The Austin American-Statesman Postcards Blog
Breaking with longstanding tradition to name all Senate committees at once, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst today announced who will serve on the powerful Senate Finance Committee so budget hearings can quickly begin. The chair, as expected, is Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, who has headed the upper chamber’s budget-writing panel for the past several sessions.More

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to push Texas lawmakers to consider fee hike to pay for roads
The Dallas Morning News
A determined push in the 2011 Legislature by one of its most powerful figures is likely the only chance Texas has to find the money needed to tackle worsening traffic in Dallas and other big cities. Despite an $8 billion annual budget, the Texas Department of Transportation expects to run out of money for new construction in 2012. That could delay or doom critical projects.More

Senators hear testimony on voter identification bill
The San Antonio Express-News
While the Texas Senate put voter identification legislation on a fast track, the House overwhelmingly rejected an effort to bypass the normal committee process so a bill could be approved without public testimony. Keying off Gov. Rick Perry's declaration of the issue as a legislative emergency, the Senate turned itself into a committee of the whole so it could start hearing from the public today and vote on the bill as soon as testimony ends.More

Sanctuary city bills vague on policing
The Houston Chronicle
Even if the Legislature abolishes so-called sanctuary cities, something Gov. Rick Perry says needs to be done at the start of the legislative session, police won't have a means of checking immigration status or the authority to arrest illegal immigrants. Perry has declared banning sanctuary cities an emergency item, which means lawmakers can begin considering the issue in the first 30 days of the legislative session.More