TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 8/25/14
by ROSS RAMSEY, The Texas Tribune
Aug 30, 2014 | 674 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print


TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 8/25/14







Nearly three years after more than 600 Texas school districts filed litigation challenging the state's school finance system, a Travis County district judge has ruled in their favor.

Texas counties, cities and school districts have more than $100 billion in debt that's backed by a pledge of local property taxes. Use our Local Debt Explorer to find out how much tax-supported debt is held in your community.

Texas cities, counties and school districts are relying more on debt to maintain services in a fast-growing state. While critics argue communities need to work harder to live within their means, local officials say the issue is not that simple.

Texas voters approve billions of dollars in new local debt each year. A growing group of critics argues that voters wouldn't be so agreeable if they were more clearly informed of the debt that's already owed in their name.

Leander and other fast-growing school districts have relied heavily on a controversial financing tool called capital appreciation bonds to borrow money to expand even as they bump up against state limits on school district debt. 

State leaders tout the so-called Texas miracle – the idea that the economy here is thriving thanks to their small-government approach. But not everyone benefits. Here are the stories of six Texans who've found little relief in the Texas miracle.

In West Texas, oil and gas development is surging, but it's also fueling a huge demand for electricity that the current infrastructure struggles to meet. The result? A congested grid and higher electricity bills for consumers.

The arrival of the Texas National Guard to the border has been met with praise by some who say the state is taking the lead in securing the border. Others say the deployment is overkill that only serves to hamper the local economy.

If Bert Richardson remains on the bench for the criminal case against Gov. Rick Perry, those who know the former prosecutor say trial watchers will be treated to an engaged judge.

As Houston considers a radical new plan for boosting its dismally low recycling rate, some critics worry that it will continue the legacy of putting waste facilities in predominantly minority neighborhoods.









This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/08/30/tribweek-top-texas-news-week-825/.

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