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Hot List: day 78

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Day 78 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

“This is the largest undeveloped casino market in the United States.”
-Jack Pratt, head of the Texas Gaming Association on Texas’ potential revenue from legalized gambling

You’d think that with a $27 billion budget shortfall and now cuts that would catastrophically affect hundreds of thousands of Texans, our state leaders would get a jolt back to reality. But as Abby Rapoport writes in her latest print column, they are still living in a “land of ideological purity,” and not even a report projecting that the budget will result in 300,000 job losses can bring them back down to earth. 

Lawmakers have yet to sincerely broach the idea of repealing big-business tax exemptions to help raise revenue this session, but the Senate Finance Committee at least started talking about it. As Ari Phillips writes, state Sen. Rodney Ellis laid out a bill yesterday calling for a “periodic review of state and local tax ‘preferences,’ i.e. favorable tax policies for corporations.” 

The Austin American Statesman looks at a host of environmental bills, ranging from “recycling TVs to disclosing chemicals used in natural gas drilling” that enviro groups and legislators think have a good chance at passing all because of one common thread — in this tight-budget session, they come at no cost to the state. 

The House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee will hear several gambling-related bills this morning, while anti-bullying legislation is back up in the House Public Education Committee this afternoon. 

Alexa Garcia-Ditta is an Observer reporter (and former intern) covering women's health, reproductive health and health care access across the Lone Star State. Before joining the Observer, she was a staff news writer at the San Antonio Current. She holds an MA in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and BA in journalism and Spanish from UT-Arlington, where she worked for three years on her college newspaper. After graduate school, she dipped her toe in public policy communications at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. When she's not at work, she's probably training for her next marathon.