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Hometown: Austin, TX
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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,063

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Texas has spent nearly $10 million on interest for late payments

AAS 1/12/12

Texas has spent nearly $10 million during past decade on interest for late payments

During the past 10 years, state agencies and public universities have paid out $9.4 million worth of interest on late payments to vendors and contractors, an American-Statesman analysis has found.

Under a state law aimed at ensuring that Texas pays its bills in a timely manner, state agencies have to tack on interest if they pay their bills more than 30 days late. Agencies currently have to add an extra 4.25 percent — the prime rate plus 1 percent — on late bills. The amount is automatically added by a statewide accounting system.

Vendors and contractors aren't allowed to charge separate late fees, and the agencies said they have redoubled their efforts to minimize late payments, which can also happen because of delays in processing invoices, disputes over whether goods and services were delivered as promised and a host of other reasons. The agencies have also been helped by steadily falling interest rates.

Nearly $1 million per year in interest payments seems like small change in a state with a $173 billion two-year budget .

But for public schools and state agencies that had to slash their budgets after the Legislature reduced the state budget by $15 billion last year, it's real money.

Republican rule in Texas - how's that working for you Texas taxpayers?

Imagine if the state agencies had enough employees to do the job in a timely manner. Maybe we could save some of that interest money.

For-Profit Lock-Up Leaves Littlefield Taxpayers With Texas-sized Headache

Burnt Orange Report 2/8/12
For-Profit Lock-Up Leaves Littlefield Taxpayers With Texas-sized Headache

For the past three years, the small West Texas town of Littlefield has had to come up with $65,000 a month to service a loan on an empty prison it never needed. To avoid defaulting on its prison loan, Littlefield has laid off workers, cut every department's budget, raised property taxes, increased fees, raided its municipal sewer and water fund, and even delayed its purchase of a new police car.

With just 6,507 residents during the 2000 census, Littlefield did not need a new prison. The city's elected officials decided to build one anyways. Littlefield issued $10 million in revenue bonds for construction of a 310-bed for-profit detention center as part of the city's economic development strategy in 1999. Revenue bonds are a special type of municipal bond that do not require voter approval, because they are backed by the expected revenue a project will generate. Littlefield's politicians built the prison believing it would pay for itself, pump money into the local economy, and expand job opportunity.


As a result of this experience, Littlefield's bond rating was downgraded to junk status, and Littlefield taxpayers were saddled with millions in debt after discovery of mismanagement by for-profit prison operator Geo Group led the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) to terminate its contract and remove its prisoners in 2009. When IDOC cancelled its contract, Geo Group bailed on Littlefield by terminating its contract and laying off 74 workers.

Excellent reporting by Nick Hudson blogging for Cuentame. Very nice video at the link above too. The video is in Spanish but has English sub-titles.

Partial deal on interim maps

Texas Redistricting blog 2/6/12
Breaking: Partial deal on interim maps
Press statement by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today issued the following statement on the proposed interim redistricting maps for Texas’ 2012 elections:

“The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes changes only where necessary. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature. Even though these proposed interim maps aren’t fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties. Today’s maps should allow the court to finalize the interim redistricting maps in time to have elections in April,” Attorney General Abbott said.

Well maybe they've saved a unified April primary. We'll see.

Rick Perry's campaign fell hard and fast in 2012

Austin Chronicle 1/27/12

Rick Perry's campaign fell hard and fast in 2012


1) Iowa Owie: If the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus used Texas school accountability standards, count Perry as "Presidentially Unaccept­able." He limped over the line in fifth place with 10.3% in a state where he had been leading in August.

2) Will You, Won't You?: After his Iowa drubbing, rumors were circulating that his staff were sitting in bars as if the campaign were already over, and Perry himself was telling everyone he would decamp to Texas to consider his options. Instead, he just went for a jog and decided, yup, he was staying in for the long haul – which turned out to be a grand total of 16 days.

3) Iraq the Third: What's a Texas Republican presidential hopeful without a Gulf War? At the Jan. 7 ABC debate, Perry announced that he would send troops back into Iraq. Really, he actually said that.

4) No, No, New Hampshire: Accepting that the Northeast was always stony ground for his brand of good ol' boyism, Perry announced he was bypassing the Granite State's Jan. 10 vote and heading straight to South Carolina, which he declared to be his Alamo. The result? A mortifying 0.7% showing in the nation's first primary.

5) Perfect, Immobile Hair: On a Jan. 13 trip to the Squat 'n' Gobble in Bluffton, S.C., the governor seemed to take a question from a store mannequin. There was back-and-forth among the press whether Perry was joking or not, but the discussion just proved that no one took him seriously.

Oh damn I do sure love making fun of Perry. That's the only thing I will miss about his huge national landslide failure.

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