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SPORADIC REPORTS OF SCHOOL WALKOUTS
by Trey Garrison    Fri, Mar 31, 2006, 01:15 PM

So far various schools I've called this morning in the Dallas area report a few sporadic walkouts. Some are on lock-down. Doesn't appear anything like the scale of Monday and Tuesday.

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SCHOOL BOARD HEARS COMPLAINTS ABOUT USING BILINGUAL TEACHERS, CANCELS DISTRICT 8 ELECTION by Brian B
by Brian Bodine    Fri, Mar 31, 2006, 12:40 PM

On Thursday, several people complained to Dallas ISD board members about the hiring of additional bilingual teachers for district schools. Some of the speakers commented on the need to have black teachers teaching black students and appealed to trustees and Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to not jeopardize the jobs of black professionals by hiring more bilingual teachers.

“It’s makes little sense,” said Pete Peterson, a Dallas resident. “Our black teachers should continue to be able to effectively teach black students.” Other people speaking cited the small number of Spanish-speaking students enrolled at some area schools. Some speakers claimed that there are not enough students in need of bilingual instruction to justify the district hiring more bilingual teachers.

In early February, school board members discussed alleviating the shortage of bilingual teachers in DISD. Currently, DISD recruits bilingual educators from other countries because of the shortage. Some school board members have suggested that bilingual teachers could be recruited from within the district.

While there are many Spanish-speaking immigrants in the district who are qualified to teach, many of them are in the U.S. illegally. It is currently against U.S. federal law to knowingly employ an illegal worker.

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DISTRICT 8 ELECTION CANCELED

The school board also voted to cancel the election for the District 8 board seat, which has been vacant since the death of Joseph May in February. Adam Medrano, the grandson of former labor union leader Pancho Medrano, was the only one running in the race and was declared the victor.

While Adam Medrano from a family with strong ties to local politics, in particular the city council, he has very little experience in public work and he also has a misdemeanor criminal record.

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PLAYING WITH FIRE
by Trey Garrison    Fri, Mar 31, 2006, 12:39 PM

In an "unusual" breach of science safety protocol, a North Fort Worth lab assistant flash fried himself while making meth.

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A BRIDGE TOO FAR?
by Trey Garrison    Fri, Mar 31, 2006, 12:21 PM

The daily's Emily Ramshaw, who has been on a roll lately, has another good story today about how the Calatrava bridges for the Trinity River project are likely to cost twice as much as initially projected - running as high as $100 million.

And, she notes, with federal and state dollars maxed out, transportation officials say, Dallas would have to make up the difference.

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CARRILLO SUSPECTED IN STRING OF SEXUAL ASSAULTS
by Trey Garrison    Fri, Mar 31, 2006, 12:16 PM

Fort Worth Police say that Jose Carrillo sexually assaulted as many as a dozen women, raped at least three, and is also suspected of robbery and other incidents of indecent exposure over the past two years.

The illegal immigrant from Mexico currently faces three charges of rape, as well as charges for for his status an undocumented alien.

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AMERICAN PSYCHO
by Trey Garrison    Thu, Mar 30, 2006, 10:39 PM

Here's one sorry specimen who I hope gets to find out first hand what it's like to be an abused girlfriend during his coming time on Cellblock Six.

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NO BATON JOKES, PLEASE
by Trey Garrison    Thu, Mar 30, 2006, 08:30 PM

Dallas' Thin Blue Line is apparently no thinner for having one less officer today.

Police Chief David Kunkle said he terminated - fired, not, you know, offed - Officer Cory Adams on Thursday afternoon for engaging in sexual conduct while on duty and failing to place evidence in its proper place. Which, if you don't know the details and hear the two charges back to back, sounds even worse than it was.

Adams, who had been with DPD for four years and was assigned to the Southwest division, "engaged in a sexual act with a female while on duty in May of 2005 and failed to deliver drug paraphernalia to the police property room."

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PERRYMAN GROUP HIGHLIGHTS ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF SHARP TAX PROPOSAL
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Thu, Mar 30, 2006, 07:27 PM

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Dr. Ray Perryman

An analysis by The Perryman Group (TPG), an economic research firm based in Waco, reveals that a proposed tax reform measure could bring substantial benefits to the Texas economy. The plan put forth by the Texas Tax Reform Commission, chaired by former Comptroller of Public Accounts John Sharp, represents a substantial overhaul and modernization of the tax system in Texas. The plan would reduce school property taxes significantly, eliminate the current corporate franchise tax, and enact an "alternative margins tax" designed to offer a fair and equitable distribution of the business tax burden (as well as a few other items).

According to Dr. M. Ray Perryman, the President of the firm which conducted the analysis, "In addition to its role in helping to meet court-imposed mandates regarding the financing of public education, this proposal has considerable merit. By reducing property taxes and eliminating the current capital stock component of the franchise tax, it removes much of the penalty presently imposed on large, capital-intensive enterprises. As a result, it will serve as a stimulus to investment and economic development. Moreover, it spreads the burden of taxation more equitably across various sectors of the state’s business complex, thus making the system more responsive to future expansion in overall state performance and fiscal needs. The reductions in property taxes also serve as a catalyst to future real estate development. In essence, this measure, if enacted, would represent a notable milestone in moving the Texas tax structure away from an ‘industrial revolution’ model and more toward one suited for an information and technology society."

Using the Texas Multi-Regional Impact Assessment System, The Perryman Group examined the potential effects of this proposed change in the tax structure. This model was developed and is maintained by TPG and has been used in hundreds of applications over the past twenty-five years, including numerous previous tax-related studies.

The increased efficiency in the allocation of the tax burden alone results in gains to the economy (in constant 2006 dollars) of an estimated

 

When considered on a dynamic basis, which accounts for the real estate and economic development stimulus, the impact at maturity increases to

  • $10.971 billion in annual Total Expenditures;
  • $4.158 billion in annual Gross State Product;
  • $2.168 billion in annual Personal Income;
  • $1.640 billion in annual Retail Sales; and
  • 48,755 in Permanent Jobs.

Additionally, these increases in business activity provide a yearly increment to State revenues of about $301.2 million, and virtually all major sectors experience net increases in output and employment. It also stimulates more than 2,000 new housing starts per year and almost 3,000 sales of existing homes.

Perryman further noted, "The process of providing adequate fiscal revenues to meet the needs of a diverse and expanding economy are quite complex, and the best approaches are often in the eye of the beholder. Nonetheless, the proposal offered by the Texas Tax Reform Commission represents a positive improvement over the current structure with regard to numerous objective criteria such as equity, efficiency, promotion of investment and development, and responsiveness to an evolving business complex. Thus, its enactment is likely to bring substantial benefits across a broad spectrum, setting the stage for a more competitive state economy for decades to come."

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REGENTS RAISE UNT TUITION 5.2 PERCENT
by Brian Bodine    Thu, Mar 30, 2006, 05:35 PM

Students at some Texas universities face higher tuition costs as early as this fall. Today, in a 7-2 vote, University of North Texas regents approved a 5.2 percent tuition increase for 2006 and beyond. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, undergraduates taking 15 hours at UNT will pay $3,056.10

According to UNT officials, the increase in revenue will go toward the university’s budget shortfall and financial aid.

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GOVERNOR PERRY’S STATEMENT ON HIS SCHOOL FINANCE PLAN
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Thu, Mar 30, 2006, 02:27 PM

For decades Texas has needed a new tax structure that protects jobs, reflects the modern economy, spreads the responsibility of paying for schools more fairly and lightens the load of property owners. Thanks to a new plan developed by the bipartisan Texas Tax Reform Commission, today that goal is within reach.

Our tax reform proposal appeals to Texans’ sense of fairness, encourages investments in jobs and workers, discourages harmful addictions like smoking, and utilizes a portion of the existing budget surplus to give the people a well-deserved tax cut without leaving future legislatures a mountain of debt.

If the legislature adopts this plan in the upcoming special session, Texas will benefit in four principal ways. First, the way we pay for education will be fundamentally fairer because the centerpiece of our proposal – the reformed business franchise tax – is broader, more equitable and assessed at a lower rate than the tax we have today. It closes tax loopholes so more businesses will pay their share, and doubles the small business exemption so small employers can continue to grow and create jobs.

Second, this plan encourages employers to invest in people. It creates new incentives for employers to hire more Texans, invest in pensions and provide healthcare for workers and their families. In general, the more an employer spends on paychecks and worker benefits, the less they will pay in taxes.

Third, it makes homeownership more affordable for millions of Texas families by providing the largest property tax cut in Texas history. Our plan delivers $6 billion in relief, which amounts to about a 33 percent reduction on school maintenance and operations tax bills by the 2007 tax year.

And fourth, this plan dramatically increases the state share of education funding. By spreading the financial burden of paying for education across a broader cross section of the economy, and ending the over-reliance on local property tax dollars, our schools will benefit from a more reliable and stable stream of revenue.

The Texas Tax Reform Commission plan will deliver record tax relief, real tax reform and greater tax fairness for homeowners and businesses. It reduces the overall tax burden on Texans by nearly $1.5 billion. And we believe it can bridge the differences in the legislature that have caused previous efforts to falter.

By incorporating the bipartisan viewpoints of the 24-member tax commission, our plan stakes out common ground that members of both parties and both chambers of the legislature can agree upon. It does not raise the sales tax, a key priority for many Democrats. It significantly reduces the amount of property tax dollars that are redirected from one school district to another, a top goal for many Republicans. And families in every income bracket will experience tax relief, as long as they don’t consume tobacco.

If lawmakers pass this plan, the result will be more families able to afford their own home, more jobs that provide good healthcare plans and benefits, and more children excelling in schools that have the reliable revenue stream they need to succeed

We recognize that some lawmakers may want to spend the state’s entire budget surplus instead of taking up the hard work of tax reform. But that approach not only fails to provide a lasting solution to Texas’ school finance problem, it fails to match the level of property tax relief that our plan offers. And even worse, spending all of the surplus now will lead to a multi-billion budget shortfall in the near future that will likely require a large tax increase.

We ask legislators to lay aside their past differences, as we have, in pursuit of shared prosperity for Texas. And once this great challenge is resolved, in accordance with the deadline ordered by the state’s highest court, we can then turn our attention to other critical concerns such as teacher pay, raising classroom standards and improving financial accountability for taxpayers.

Our tax reform plan is fair, forward-looking and future-oriented. It provides a tax structure for a 21st century economy. It provides the substantial property tax relief that Texans deserve. And it provides the legislature a historic opportunity to shape Texas’ future for the better. We are optimistic that lawmakers will join us in this great cause.

Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, established the Texas Tax Reform Commission in September 2005 and appointed John Sharp, former Texas Comptroller and a Democrat, to chair the effort.

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