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State Expects At Least $5 Billion In Extra Revenue


The Texas comptroller's office says it now expects the state to collect at least $5 billion in unanticipated revenue during the present two-year budget cycle.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the disclosure by Comptroller Susan Combs comes as the state seeks $9.8 billion in short-term loans. Combs says sales tax collections are running about $1.5 billion ahead of projections. Previously, she had reported that the state had a $1.6 billion cash balance.

Fiscal analyst Eva DeLuna Castro of the Austin-based nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Public Policy Priorities says even the $5 billion is a conservative figure. She says history suggests that state revenue could swell with a rise in personal income in the state.


Highland Park/Dallas Police Investigate Infant Death And Father’s Suicide

The father of a four month old boy who died at Children’s Medical Center Sunday apparently killed himself Wednesday night.

Police found 44 year old Louis Rothermel, of Highland Park, in a room at Marriott Hotel on Central Expressway. The police report says Rothermel died of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Doctors at Children’s Medical Center notified Highland Park Police Sunday after noticing something suspicious on four month old Harrison Rothermel’s body. The baby’s cause of death has not been determined. The infant’s four year old brother is temporarily in foster care.

Police say both parents were cooperative. Louis Rothermel was reported missing Wednesday by his parents.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Gas Prices Driven Higher

Gas prices across Texas are up six cents from a week ago. The statewide average is $3.29 a gallon. Fort Worth has the most expensive gas at $3.39. Dallas is a penny lower.

AAA Texas says prices are up due to better than expected global economic news. Stronger economies traditionally boost demand for crude oil, which translates to higher prices at the pump.

Texans are paying an average of $46 dollars to fill up a typical 14 gallon tank.

BJ Austin, KERA News

More West Nile Virus Cases In N Texas

Tarrant County has updated the number of human West Nile Virus cases: 23 reported. Eight of those are in Arlington.

Twenty-two cases of the mosquito-transmitted illness are now reported in Dallas County – which has the only West Nile death so far this season. It was a Dallas man in his 60’s.

17 people have become ill in Denton County. Collin reports two human cases of the virus.

Health officials say it’s important to wear insect repellant, long sleeves and pants especially if you’re out at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and drain standing water where mosquitoes may breed.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Indictment In “Hit” Placed On Arlington Mayor

An Arlington strip club owner has been indicted for trying to hire someone to kill Mayor Robert Cluck and Dallas Attorney Tom Brandt.

The indictment says 34 year old Ryan Grant was angry at the Mayor and the city’s lawyer after a nuisance lawsuit temporarily shut down the club.

Prosecutors say Grant thought Mayor Cluck and Brandt were costing him money by trying to prevent him from re-opening Flashdancer.

The hitman Grant thought he was hiring was actually an undercover officer. He offered the contact $20,000 for the two murders.

If convicted, Grant faces ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Former chemical company CEO Charged In Employees’ toxic deaths

The former president of a Port Arthur company is charged with conspiracy to illegally transport hazardous materials. Two employees of Port Arthur Chemical and Environmental Services died while hauling hydrogen sulfide gas without proper protective gear.

The indictment names Matthew Bowman, former company president. The document describes a scheme to transport hazardous materials with false documents and without the required hazmat placards on the trucks, or personal protection for drivers.

If convicted, Bowman faces a maximum five years in prison and $250,000 fine.

BJ Austin, KERA News

CEOs of AMR, US Airways discuss merger options

The CEOs of American Airlines parent company and US Airways are talking to each other about potential merger scenarios.

AMR Corp. CEO Thomas Horton and US Airways' Doug Parker met Thursday over breakfast in Washington.

The person says Horton spelled out the process his company will follow in weighing whether it remains independent or merges with another airline. Horton neither favored nor ruled out a deal with US Airways. AMR has been in bankruptcy protection since November.

This person requested anonymity because the details of the discussion haven't been made public.

Parker has conducted a very public campaign to merge with AMR. US Airways confirms that the meeting took place.


4 indicted in Sheppard AFB contract investigation

Four men have been accused in a bribery investigation involving maintenance contracts for a North Texas military installation.

Prosecutors on Thursday announced the 11-count indictment linked to bids for road and roofing contracts for Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls.

A federal grand jury in Fort Worth on Wednesday indicted two government workers and two businessmen on fraud and conspiracy counts.

Court appearances are pending for John Torrance Gilmore of Wichita Falls, Larry Thomas Ballard of Wichita Falls, James Carmon Freeman of Vernon and Miguel Angel Hughes of Fort Worth.

Gilmore and Ballard worked in the base's civil engineering department. Hughes owned Hughes and Guzman Construction Services LLC. Freeman owned Freeman Construction.

Prosecutors allege Gilmore and Ballard provided confidential bid details to Freeman and Hughes, in exchange for bribes.


Closing arguments expected in Air Force scandal

Prosecutors have rested their case in an Air Force sex scandal trial in Texas and closing arguments are expected soon.

Lackland Air Force base spokesman Oscar Balladares says the case will enter its final stages Thursday afternoon.

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, an instructor, is accused of sexually assaulting 10 trainees. Charges range from rape and aggravated sexual assault to obstructing justice and violating rules of professional conduct. If convicted, Walker could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Prosecutors wrapped up Thursday morning after two days of emotional testimony.

Officials have called the Walker trial the cornerstone case in an investigation of six Air Force instructors accused of similar crimes.

Investigators have identified at least 31 female trainees believed to be victims in the scandal that began in 2009.


Lawmaker: Report on Fort Hood attack faults FBI

A Texas congressman says the FBI made serious missteps in its handling of information about a known terrorist's communications with an Army psychiatrist leading up to the deadly 2009 attack in Fort Hood, Texas.

Republican Rep. Michael McCaul says the FBI's Washington division fell back on political correctness and did not pass critical information about a potential terrorist inside the U.S. military to people who might have prevented the attack.

McCaul was briefed on the findings of a more than two-year independent review by former FBI Director William Webster. In 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller asked Webster to take an in-depth look at how the bureau handled the investigation.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment but is expected to release an unclassified version of the report.