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January 9, 2013     Hays Free Press
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Section D + CLASSIFIEDS * PUBLIC NOTICES SERVICE DIRECTORY HaysFreePress.com ~a~s ~[ree press Janua~ 9,2013 STAFF REPORT Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released the state's Biennial Revenue Estimate, showing the state is projected to have $101.4 billion avail- able for general-purpose spending during the 2014-15 biennium. "Texas experienced a very strong rebound from a se- vere recession," Combs said. "The state's robust economic recovery led to better-than- expected revenue collections in major taxes such as the sales tax, oil and natural gas production taxes and motor vehicle sales taxes. The out- look for both the economy and state revenue is for con- tinuing expansion as the fast- growth of the economic re- covery gives way to moderate, sustained growth." The state's general revenue collections from taxes, fees and other income is estimat- ed to be $96.2 billion for the 2014-15 biennium, of which about $3.6 billion would be set aside for future transfers to the Rainy Day Fund. This leaves approximately $92.6 billion in net general revenue. Adding to that is a projected $8.8 billion ending balance from the current biennium, giving the Legislature the esti- mated $101.4 billion for gen- eral- purpose spending for the next biennium. The Texas economy, in inflation-adjusted terms, is projected to increase by 3.4 percent in fiscal 2013, anoth- er 3.4 percent in fiscal 2014 and 3.9 percent in fiscal 2015. The state's unemployment rate, which reached 8.2 per- cent during the recession, is expected to continue slowly dropping and average 6 per- cent during 2015. The state's largest tax rev- enue source is the sales tax, which accounts for more than half the state's general reve- nue. It is expected to generate approximately $54.9 billion in the 2014-15 biennium, a 9.4 increase from the current bi- ennium. Among other large tax rev- enue sources: Motor vehicle sales taxes are expected to be about $7.9 billion in 2014-15, a 9.3 percent increase from the current biennium. The oil production tax is projected to generate about $4.6 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from the current biennium; natural gas pro- duction tax revenue is es- timated to be $2.5 billion, about a 4 percent decrease from the current biennium. The state's franchise tax reve- nue for all funds is estimated at $9.5 billion for 2014-15, a 3.1 percent increase. "While the Texas economy is doing well, we must be mindful of factors that cast a shadow over our economy," Combs said. "The economic and financial troubles dog- ging Europe drag on and the powerful Chinese economy has slowed. Meanwhile, the federal government remains gridlocked across a number of issues. Economic and regu- latory uncertainty, including the possibility of increased taxation, can delay purchas- ing decisions by businesses and households." At the end of the current biennium, the state's Rainy Day Fund will have a balance of about $8.1 billion, absent any appropriation that might be made by the Legislature. At the end of the 2014-15 bien- nium the balance is projected to be approximately $11.8 billion, absent any legislative appropriations. State revenue for all pur- poses is estimated at $208.2 billion for the 2014-15 bien- nium, which would include approximately $112 billion in federal receipts and other in- come. \ BY JILLIAN BLISS Reporting Texas In 1963, 16 larger-than-life morning glories bloomed along the springs of the San Marcos River. The sculptures, created by Texas artist BuckWinn, were originally com- missioned by the Aquarena Springs theme park, a roadside attraction that ran from the 1950s through 1994, when the park was purchased and closed by nearby Texas State Univer- sity. Texas State officials worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to create a plan to restore the park as habitat for endangered species living along the river. "We had all those crummy old buildings that were run down, and so we started working with the Corps in 1999 because we were interested in improving the habitat over there," said Bill Nance, vice president of student financial services at Texas State. "We didn't have a plan for the sculptures because the original plan was to re- move it all." When BuckWinn's grandson, Andrew Winn, heard the future of the sculptures was in limbo, he didn't think it was right for them to go the way of the bulldozer, and he didn't think they should be put away in stor- age. "I just had my gut to go off of," Winn said, referring to the years he spent at Texas State as a student and Aquarena worker. "At first I said, 'Leave them where they are.' It would've cost less to just leave them where they were and clean them off." In August 2011, after a yearlong struggle over where to put the sculp- tures, they were plucked - by he- licopter- from their concrete bed and replanted along a creek in their birthplace, the Winn family ranch in nearby Wimberley. Texas State's conundrum over what to do with these relics highlights an issue that arises when once-celebrat- ed public art begins to wear down or no longer serves its purpose: Should this kind of art be given a second life? Decisions over what to do with art that has outlasted its function can be difficult and expensive. They can also lead to unexpectedly appropriate uses for old art. Univer- sity of Texas at Austin art history profes- sor Ned Rifkin compared the morning glories case to the redevelopment trend in old neighborhoods across Austin and PHOTO BY JILLIAN BLISS The morning glory sculptures provided shade for visitors at Aquarena Springs until Texas State University began redevelopment of the property in 2011. "1 think things of greater age tend to warrant greater attention. While we are a culture that is very youth-oriented, we are also a culture that reveres things that came before our own existence. When things are kind of middle- aged, that's when we get in trouble." - Ned Rifkin, University of Texas at Austin "I think things of greater age tend to warrant greater attention," Rifkin said. "While we are a culture that is very youth-oriented, we are also a culture that reveres things that came before our own existence. When other cities. In the neighborhoods, developers have to decide how to deal with architectural integrity and how, or whether, to pre- serve artistic relics. Rifkin said today's distracted view- ers of art can forget what made art appealing before culture deemed it dated in form or function. things are kind of middle-aged, that's when we get in trouble." In the case of Aquarena's sculptures, the issue of their sur- vival escalated when commu- nity members began calling the university in 2010 and 2011, begging it not to destroy them, Nance said. Nance said the university would have to pay an additional $600,000 to rede- sign the restora- tion plan. When Andrew Winn learned about the situation in the summer of 2011, he suggested an alternative. Texas State administrators approved Winn's proposal to take the morning glories home and helped remove and transport the flowers. The university paid $250,000 (none of it from tax- payers) for the helicopter rides. The sculptures were too tall and broad to survive a truck ride. Nance said he thought the price was a reasonable alternative to the expense of leaving them in place, but a fair compromise with community members who didn't want to see the sculptures destroyed. Winn, who earned a biology degree from Texas State, said the sculptures would have fit the former Aquarena site's new function, to educate the public on San Marcos River ecology. Before they aged, the morning glories mimicked the aquifer's motion. Rifkin said he understands why university administrators did not think of a reason to let the morning glories remain. He said the idea of cultural dislocation explains why it is easy for people to allow old, but not ancient, objects to fade, eventually into memory. "These objects kind of have a pres- ence and a life of their own," Rifkin said. "when they're taken out of that presence, they lose something. They mean something still, but their mechanism in meaning is different." Bob "Daddy-O" Wade is another Texas artist who has seen his work dis- located and relocated. Wade created a 40-foot-long, polyurethane and wire iguana 34 years ago that he intended to dwell in a park near Niagara Falls. When park officials decided the iguana did not belong there, it was moved to the rooftop of the Lone Star Cafe in NewYork, where it became a landmark in the city, much like the morning glories in San Marcos. Visitors to the cafe looked up to the iguana - which was adorned in different attire during different sea- See AGING ART REVIVAL, pg. 4D BUDA N" ew Year's Day, new year ... can it be a fresh start, a new beginning? Most of us have our New Year's resolutions every Jan. 1. Maybe it is to lose weight, get in shape, stop smoking or spend more quality time with the family. The resolutions don't seem to vary much from year to year, but perhaps the way we act upon them and prioritize them should. For me faith, family and friends are my top priorities along with my job, health, volunteering and giv- ing back. Many o,f us if given the op- portunity to reflect upon the last year could say that we learned something valuable, gained something valuable or perhaps lost something valu- able. Politicians have often run on the platform question "Are you better off this year than last year?" So perhaps we should find a moment to re- flect, and ask ourselves to dis- cover the things that add value and meaning in our lives. We all agree that "life is too short" and that we should not "sweat the small stuff" but do we put these tidbits and phrases to good use all year long? I hope that this new year - 2013 - is a bright new oppor- tunity for each of you to shine in the way that brings you and those around you peace, pros- perity and true happiness. Texas State aims to boost male student BY JAYME BLASCHKE Texas State University Texas State University and nine other Texas colleges and universities that make up the Texas Education Consortium for Male Student Success have been awarded $335,000 to support Hispanic and African American male student suc- cess in college enrollment and degree attainment: Project MALES,an initiative within the Division of Diver- sity and Community Engage- ment at the University of Texas headed by Victor Sdenz, assis- tant professor of education, will administer the grant. "Texas State ~ University is happy to be a part of this unique collaboration that looks to increase the number of Latino males in the:educa- tion pipeline as we knoW from the research that this .student population is not attaining similar educational outcomes to their peers," said Michael Nava, assistant dean for assess- ment in the University College at Texas State. "Through this GTF (Greater Texas Founda- tion) grant, schools like ours will be able to increase our ef- forts to recruit and retain our underrepresented male stu- dents at a higher level through mentoring support and other programs that we institute." The three-year grant will support work on four key ob- jectives: to build the consor- tium; to annually hold two meetings and a student sum- mit to share evaluation met- rics and advance program- matic activities; to incubate research-based, male-focused programs, including a male mentoring program for high school and college students at each institution; and to dis- See SUCCESS AT TXST, pg. 4D