TAB News Briefs
April 21, 2011

Ogden proposes taking another $3 billion from Rainy Day Fund
Texas Tribune
Members of the Senate Finance Committee kicked out a series of bills Wednesday intended to fund their chamber's version of the state budget for the next biennium. Toward the end of the meeting, Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, dropped the news many have been waiting to hear: He wants to attach a contingency provision to their spending plans that would withdraw $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget for the next two years, provided other revenue can't be found and the comptroller needs a last resort.More

Jobless claims fall to 403,000 last week
New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, but held above the key 400,000 level, according to government report on Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 403,000, the Labor Department said, unwinding some of the prior week's quarter-end jump. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 392,000. The prior week's figure was revised up to 416,000 from the previously reported 412,000.More

Senator: Texas fund driven by oil rally may reach $12 billion by 2013
Texas's reserve fund may climb to 28 percent more than officially forecast by 2013 as energy prices rally, a gain that might help the second-most populous state avoid some spending cuts, a key senator said. The fund, fed by energy taxes and forecast by the state comptroller to reach $9.4 billion by the end of August 2013, may gain much more by then, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, a Bryan Republican, said.More

Lufkin nonprofit needs volunteers for extreme office makeover
It's an extreme makeover, East Texas style. After decades in the same building, local builders are about to give Hospice in the Pines a much-needed makeover. The group is an nonprofit organization that provides end-of-life care for many East Texans."The houses that they're in, they're quite literally falling apart," said Mike Hineman with DETAB and Dream Homes. "DETAB wanted to initially come and bring some paint to put on these two buildings and I approached them and said I'm not sure paint will really do the job," said Senior Executive Director of Hospice in the Pines Demetress Harrell.More

Solar panels often boost home values
Shell out the money to install solar panels on your home, and you’ll probably recoup that investment when it comes time to sell the house. You may even make a little profit. A study to be released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that solar boosts the resale value of homes, both new and old.More

Austin home sales plunge 10 percent; prices up
Austin Business Journal
Single family home sales fell 10 percent in March compared with the same period last year, the Austin Board of Realtors reported recently. A total 1,597 Austin homes valued at about $396 million sold last month. The median price was $185,260, or 2 percent more than last March. On average homes were on the market 96 days, which is 32 percent longer than March 2010.More

BP sues partners as Gulf marks year since spill
The Associated Press via Amarillo Globe-News
BP marked the first anniversary of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill by suing its business partners for billions of dollars, as Gulf residents held somber vigils and relatives flew over the waters where 11 oil rig workers died. A year after the rig explosion that triggered the worst offshore oil spill in American history, President Barack Obama vowed to hold BP and others accountable for "the painful losses that they've caused." For its part, BP filed lawsuits alleging negligence by the rig owner and by the maker of the device that failed to stop the spill. Both of those companies filed their own claims, a reminder that lengthy court battles lie ahead.More

Fast Company names Houston City of the Year
Houston Business Journal
Houston has been named 2011 City of the Year by Fast Company magazine. In the May issue, due on newsstands April 26, the publication features the Bayou City as an excellent place for innovation, technology and design. The magazine cover proclaims: "Hey Houston! You're No. 1." Allegra-Jo Lagani, Fast Company's managing editor, said the City of the Year is picked internally based on a number of factors.More

Austin property taxes could rise next year
Austin American-Statesman
Austin residents could face higher property tax bills next year, according to a financial forecast presented Wednesday to the City Council. Even with more money coming in from growing sales tax receipts, budget officials predict there will still be a $27.4 million difference between city revenue and expenses next year. That means the city will either have to raise taxes, cut services, or both in the 2011-12 budget.More