Revealing Briefs

AUSTIN — Public education in Texas earns an average grade of “C” according to the 12th Annual “Quality Counts” report published by Education Week. The report, released last Wednesdays, examined states in six areas of policy and performance.

FORT WORTH — State Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) took a rather unprecedented step for a Democratic legislator last week by endorsing opponents for three of his House colleagues in the March 4 Democratic Primary. Burnam endorsed Brian Thompson (D-Austin), who is seeking to unseat Democratic State Representative Dawnna Dukes in HD 64; Sandra Rodriguez, who is seeking to unseat State Rep. Kino Flores in House District 36 in Hidalgo County, and Armando Walle, a Houston Democrat who is seeking to unseat Rep. Kevin Bailey in House District 40. “Each of these candidates is extremely viable. I hope to welcome each of them into the State Legislature next year and take three more votes away from the Republican Speaker,” Burnam said. “Since 2003, the single biggest obstacle to responsible public policy in the state of Texas has been Tom ‘absolute power’ Craddick.”

AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott used a speech before the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation last week to promote a health-insurance program that he said would help cover uninsured children within the state’s child-support system. Abbott’s program would involve the state contracting with a private insurer and courts ordering parents to pay premiums for insurance, or have those premiums garnished from their wages. Abbott’s ideas found quick criticism from State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), who is one of the leaders on CHIP issues in the House. Coleman told the Austin American- Statesman that the proposal was very similar to a public-private program mandated by the Legislature in 1997, which was dissolved shortly after the Children’s Health Insurance Program got off the ground. Coleman noted the program didn’t work because many non-custodial parents couldn’t afford to pay insurance premiums.

AUSTIN — Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich will appeal a judge’s ruling keeping him off his party’s primary ballot in Texas. Last week, federal judge Lee Yakel ruled that Kucinich could be denied access to Texas’s ballot for failing to signal his acquiescence to a loyalty oath to support the party’s nominee. Kucinich, who filed the lawsuit with country-music singer Willie Nelson, will appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The Texas primary is March 4.

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