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Texas Budget Concerns & Midday Roundup


By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – A budget writer says Texas sales tax receipts in April rose by 1.4 percent over the same month last year. But State Rep. Jim Pitts of Waxahachie says state revenues remain "well short" of predictions.

An update was expected Tuesday at an Appropriations Committee hearing in Austin.

The state comptroller's office says collections in the first eight months of the current fiscal year are nearly $1.5 billion, or almost 12 percent, behind fiscal 2009. Pitts said the hole is too deep to meet targets for the budget year that ends Aug. 31.

Members of the House Ways and Means committee in April reviewed tax exemptions as legislators who will convene in 2011 prepare for an estimated budget shortfall of at least $11 billion.

Texas home school numbers could get closer look

Texas Education Agency figures show nearly 23,000 secondary students who stopped going to class in 2008 were categorized as being home schooled and not as dropouts.

TEA requires a signed statement from a parent or guardian or qualified student, or an oral statement made within 10 days of when the student quits attending school, with the intention of home schooling.

The Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday that the Texas Home School Coalition estimates more than 300,000 children in the state are home schooled.

State Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano says she is 100 percent behind home schooling, but not when it becomes a scapegoat for dropouts. Shapiro, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, says she plans a closer look at the figures.

2 hurt in blast at Texas A&M chemistry building

Texas A&M University officials say an explosion at a chemistry building has caused minor injuries to two students.

The school issued an emergency alert Tuesday to student cell phones and local radio stations ordering an evacuation of the chemistry annex following the explosion. A half hour later, the school issued an alert saying the situation was stabilized.

University spokesman Lane Stephenson says a beaker with "some sort of solution in it" exploded.

Stephenson says the two injured are graduate students in the chemistry program. He says both are in good spirits and taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution. He says one of the students had bandages on his forearms.

Students and staff have been allowed to return to the building.