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March 26, 2009
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U.S. Home Sales Climb at Fastest Pace in 10 Months
from Reuters
New orders for long-lasting U.S.-made goods rose in February for the first time in seven months and new home sales rebounded, government data showed on Wednesday, suggesting the economic downturn might be easing a bit. The Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose 3.4 percent to $165.6 billion in February, the biggest gain since December 2007, after a 7.3 percent drop the prior month. Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes rose at their fastest pace in 10 months in February, it said in another report. More


Cloud Looms Over Texas Budget
from The Dallas Morning News
Senate Republican leaders keep saying the state has no money and can't launch big initiatives to help Texas families reeling from the recession – even with billions of dollars of federal economic stimulus money in a two-year budget that could total $177 billion. The plan, which the Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve soon, highlights a new fiscal reality that is likely to frustrate Texas lawmakers and residents for years to come: budgets with little leeway. More

Texas Legislators Question DPS Border Spending
from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Lawmakers grilled Texas law enforcement leaders after a state audit revealed that the Department of Public Safety spent millions of border security dollars on a helicopter, cars and other equipment that never made it to the border. The state auditor’s office released a report on Gov. Rick Perry’s border security plan, detailing how more than $79 million was spent from September 2005 through November 2008. More

Home Prices Post 6.3 Percent Annual Decline in January
from The Associated Press via The Dallas Morning News
A government report says U.S. home prices fell 6.3 percent in January from the same month last year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency says prices, on a seasonally adjusted basis, rose 1.7 percent from December to January. More

State Aims to Avoid Repeat of Ike-like Power Outages
from The Houston Chronicle
The Texas House on Wednesday voted to give state utility regulators the power to nudge electric companies into hardening their delivery systems against widespread power outages like those that hit Houston after Hurricane Ike. More

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Texas Democrats Win Right to Screen Judicial Nominees Under Obama
from The Dallas Morning News
After laboring in the shadows of George W. Bush and Tom DeLay for most of the last decade, Texas Democrats got a fresh taste of relevance Tuesday when the White House publicly declared them the victors in a power play over judicial nominees. For years, the state's Republican senators screened applicants for lifetime spots on the federal bench in Texas and for powerful U.S. attorney posts. As recently as last week, they refused to cede that prerogative and claimed the administration was behind them. More

Personal Income Growth Slows in Texas
from The Houston Business Journal
Per capital personal income in Texas grew 6.1 percent to $34,206.57 in 2008, up from $32,230.33 in 2007, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That was down from the 7.6 percent increase between 2006 and 2007. State per capita personal income -- personal income divided by population -- in the fourth quarter grew 4.6 percent to $10,904.42 in 2008, compared with $10,423.85 for the same period in 2007. More

Highlights from the Texas Legislature
from The Amarillo Globe-News
Now hear this: The Texas House has begun passing bills. The Senate already has approved several measures, including legislation addressing state schools and voter identification, but the House with new Speaker Joe Straus had been slower to get going. More

Proposed Pay Raises Spark Ire
from The Austin American-Statesman
At a time when most Texans are glad to have a job and when lawmakers are not planning raises for many state employees, Senate leaders have proposed granting mostly four- and five-figure raises to the top officials at 45 state agencies. Their rationale: The raises are needed to keep state pay competitive. More

More than 5.5 Million Getting Jobless Benefits Nationally
from The Associated Press via The Dallas Morning News
The number of laid-off Americans filing initial jobless benefit claims rose slightly last week while the number of people continuing to claim benefits set a record for the ninth straight week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The figures indicate that the labor market remains weak even as some other recent economic indicators have come in better than expected. More

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