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February 25, 2015     Hays Free Press
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February 25, 2015
 

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+ THEY SAiD THAT "Obviously these (units) can't be reserved for ourpolice department ( oorkers) and our school teachers, but those are the type of people that oork in the city, and for the city, that can't afford to in our city." -Buda Mayor Todd Ruge on Buda offers backing to affordable housing, pg. 1 D Hays Free Press 25, 2015 Page 3A On Feb. 17, Gov. Greg Abbott delivered his first State of the State address during a joint session of the Texas House and Senate and released hisrecommendations for the two-year 2016-2017 state budget. In his 43-page Gover- nor's Budget document, Abbott said he aims to: "Constrain the size and growth of government. Reduce agency spending. Suspend, reduce, and eliminate unnecessary taxes and fees. Ensure government supports job creation and is account- able and transparent." Abbott is recommend- ing general revenue spending of $99.4 billion for 2016-2017, slightly less than a 5 percent in- crease in general revenue spending compared with the current budget. "By keeping spending levels lower than the growth in population plus inflation, we can ensure that the size of government does not grow. This allows Texas to significantly reduce tax burdens," Abbott asserted, and promoted the building of the budget on the fol- lowing "core principles": Passing a constitution- al amendment to limit the growth in state spending to the historic growth in the state's population plus inflation. Limiting the size of government by reducing most state agency general ~_ revenue expenditures by 3 percent. Securing additional trading for transportation infrastructure by passing a constitutional amendment to dedicate one half of the motor vehicle sales tax to transportation needs and ending many transporta- tion funding diversions. Stimulating private sector job growth by per- manently decreasing the business "franchise" tax by $2 billion, combined with comprehensive reforms. Providing property owners with $2.2 billion in property tax relief. Using any revenue that exceeds initial estimates or a portion of any surplus cash to reduce state non-self-supporting debt. Preventing future overspending by passing a constitutional amendment ending the use of funds in statutorily dedicated accounts for budget certi- fication; Providing the governor expanded line-item veto authority to ensure pru- dent and sensible spend- ing reductions. In a set of official proc- lamations released Feb. 20, Abbott named five emer- gency items for state law- makers to address without delay: (1) improvements to early education; (2) higher education research initiatives; (3) transpor- tation funding; (4) border security funding; and (5) ethics reform. The Texas Constitution requires lawmakers to take action on the governor's emer- gency items by March 13, the 60th day of the 140-day regular session of the 84th Texas Legislature. With the governor's wishes now expressed, Capitol Highlights by Ed Sterling committees in both houses of the Texas Legislature will continue to work on their own versions of a state budget for the next fiscal biennium. Those versions will have to be reconciled by the two bodies, and ulti- mately, with the governor, who has veto power. COURT RULES ON IMMIGRATION On Feb. 16, a Browns- viUe U.S. district judge is- sued a preliminary injunc- tion, pending the outcome of a multi-state lawsuit, to stall an executive order President Obama issued last fall that would allow some five million tmdoc- umented immigrants to apply for work permits and avoid deportation. In issuing the injunc- tion, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen reasoned that the U.S. Adminis- trative Procedure Act's requirement that public notice and a public com- ment period did not take place before a change in U.S. immigration policy could take effect. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lauded the ruling and noted in a Feb. 20 news release, "Texas leads a 26-state coalition fighting the president's attempt to unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants." The Obama administra- tion has filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for a stay of the district court's injunction. SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS CONDUCTED Austia State District Judge DavidWahlberg, citing "unconstitution- al prohibitions against same-sex marriage" in Texas, gave Travis County the green light to proceed with official paperwork culminating in a marriage ceremony uniting two women on Feb. 19. Attomey General Paxton quickly obtained a stay from the Texas Supreme Court that prevents same- sex marriages. Paxton alSO seeks to invalidate the one marriage that was con- ducted. Gov. Abbott said, 'Tkrticle 1, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution defines mar- riage as consisting 'only of the union of one man and one woman' and was approved by more than three-quarters of Texas voters. I am committed to ensuring that the Texas Constitution is upheld and that the rule of law is maintained In the State of Texas." The constitutionality of same-sex marriage is a matter pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. A rul- ing is expected by June 30. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the organization. edsterling@texaspress.com 1.00RS OF THINGS HgR Tills COULD TO YOIJ, TO0! i!iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii)iii)iiii iii~i!)i~iiiiili)iii!i!i!ili Of any issue that has captured the attention and concern of Hays County residents in the recent past - the threat to our groundwater and the future of our water resources are two that top the list. The proposed plan by the Houston corporation Electro Purification to pump more than five million gallons of water each day from the Trinity Aquifer and pipe it east to Buda, Goforth Water SUD and the private Anthem development near Mountain City has generated more criticism than a bonehead play that decides a Super Bowl. These new water developers in Texas in many ways resemble the wildcatters of the past. Texas was once the "wild cutting edge" of the oil industry during the :.-- early twentieth century. The first generation of Texas oilmen used their wits and money to drill for oil and gas - often in an irresponsible, devil-may-care approach. Ironically, if oil were at play here instead of water, we would have rules firmly in place that would require permitting, some protection for landowners, and sharing the resource through "pooling" agreements. Texas Supreme Court Judge Nathan Hecht opined in the recent Day McDaniel ruling that groundwater is owned in place like oil and gas. But, since it is groundwater in an unregulated part of the aquifer subject only to the "rule of capture," all rationale and fair approaches are forgotten. The public meetings in Wimbefley and San Marcos have only raised concerns while confirming our issues. EP and their supporters revealed that they really have no idea how much water is available to meet the contracts. They acknowledged that neighboring wells will suffer a negative impact. As a result, many of these landowners will Guest Column by Patrick Cox, Ph.D. Ironically, if oil were at play here instead of water, we would have rules firmly in place that would require permitting, some protection for landowners, and sharing the resource through "pooling" agreements. have to deepen their wells or find other sources to replace their groundwater. They offered a promise of mitigation but no details were provided. And no one could say what the cost will be - both for the purchasers and those neighboring well owners. Really? Does this sound like a way that anyone should conduct business and plan for the future? Thanks to shining the light of truth on this dark tale, everyone is taking notice and speaking up on this proposed atrocity. Hays County Commissioners, numerous city councils, school boards, water supply companies, neighborhood associations, churches, individual property owners and many people who are part time residents in Hays County are openly opposing this attempt to remove this much water from the Trinity Aquifer. This is an almost unprecedented show of collective reaction and consensus that this is not how we should address our water needs or plan for the future. So where do we go from here? At this point, the legislation proposed by State Representative Jason Isaac to increase the authority of the Barton Springs/ Edwards Aquifer and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation Districts (the GCDs) over the "white zone," the unregulated portions of the Trinity Aquifers is essential. In addition, these districts will need additional funding to provide the necessary research, oversight, conservation and planning for the groundwater. In the short term, everyone should be prepared to urge our elected officials in the legislature, to act and approve this legislation. They need to hear from us, as clearly as possible, how important this issue is to everyone. This will be the next struggle in this long battle over our water. We also need to politely, but resolutely, encourage Buda, Goforth and Anthem to gracefully withdraw from their contracts with EP. In the long term, establishing functional and effective GCDs are a necessary part of the solution. Just as important, we need to change the culture around our water. Improved water conservation, water reuse, rainwater harvesting and applied technology must be part of the solution. We must all recognize that this is a finite resource that should be conserved, protected and treated as a market-valued commodity-just like oil and all resources that we rely on for our livelihood and future. Patrick Cox is a professor at the University of Texas who lives in Wimberley. He is a former newspaperman and con tinues to write occasionally on local issues. QUESTIONS BUDA NEVER ANSWERS This is not Buda vs. Wimberley. This is politician/ developer profit vs. citizens. Dear Editor: Why are Buda spokes- people claiming a water emergency when their own data show the projected 'need' is for developer sweetheart before even a gallon of nonexistent residents of deals than in Hays water is used and paid proposed future sub- County neighbors and for. This is your future divisions? Could it be current Buda residents? if Buda 'planners' have that Buda politicians, Buda homeowners their way and your area with the exception of the - take a look at Wood-is saturated with homes honorable and coura- creeks water hookup past its carrying capac- geous Angela Kennedy, fees - $125+ a month, ity. Right now, there are more interested in each and every month, is plenty of water for existing residents. This is not Buda vs. Wimber- ley. This is politician/ developer profit vs. citizens. Please join us in de- manding a moratorium on further development until we can all figure out what growth this region can bear sustain- ably and responsibly, with our first priority be- ing the current residents. Nancy Weaver Driftwood, Texas Barton Publications, Inc. News tips: news@haysfreepress.com Opinions: csb@haysfreepress.com 113 W. Center St., Kyle, TX 78640 512-268-7862 122 Main St., Buda, TX 78610 512-295-9760 www.haysfreepress.com Publisher Moses Leos III, Sports Editor, Cyndy Slovak-Barton News Reporter Andy Sevilla, Senior Reporter Editor Ashley Sava, Reporter Kim Hilsenbeck kim@haysfreepress.com Columnists Ed Sterling, Chris Winslow, Bartee Haile, Willis Webb Proofreaders Jane Kirkham, Travis Wilson Tracy Mack, Marketing Director Debbie Hall, Marketing Specialist Connie Brewer, Office Manager Suzanne Hallam, Circulation/ Classifieds David White, Production Manager Christine Thorpe, Production Asst. Distribution Pete Sizemore, Cosme Cuellar + ) ))l)lll ii:I ) I| I ) I) I i[ I Ii II I