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Texas Leaders Order 10 Percent Budget Cuts & Midday Roundup


By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Texas leaders today asked state agencies to trim their upcoming budget requests by 10 percent in anticipation of a shortfall that could reach $18 billion.

The request to lower future state funding proposals comes on top of a May 18 order for agencies to immediately trim 5 percent of their budgets.

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus say they want agencies, with some exceptions for critical programs, such as Medicaid, to lower their requests for the 2012-2013 budget.

Officials say the funding requests are due by Aug. 30. The shortfall will top the agenda when legislators reconvene in January.

Perry says state leadership will continue to identify ways to trim spending, just as families and businesses across the state have done, in order to balance the state's budget.

The 5 percent budget reductions were expected to save $1.2 billion.

Texas gov. asks Obama to halt expected EPA actions

Gov. Rick Perry is asking President Barack Obama to prevent federal environmental regulators from taking over the Texas air quality program.

Perry sent a letter to Obama on Friday. The governor says the Texas program for permitting pollutants released by petrochemical plants has helped improved air quality.

On Wednesday, Environmental Protection Agency regional director Al Armendariz announced regulators were preparing to completely take over the Texas air quality program if the state fails to comply with the Clean Air Act. The EPA says the Texas permitting program makes regulating pollution impossible.

Perry's letter says the EPA's action will replace a successful program with a "less effective Washington-based, bureaucratic-led command and control mandate."

Dallas jail teacher sentenced for assaults

A teacher has been sentenced to two 10-year prison terms for sexually assaulting two boys he was instructing in the Dallas County jail.

A judge imposed the sentences Thursday after a jury found 38-year-old Luis Enrique de los Santos guilty of two counts of sexual assault of a child.

The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that the boys, ages 15 and 16, were in jail because they had been ordered to stand trial as adults - one for murder and one for aggravated assault of a police officer.

De los Santos was an employee of the Dallas Independent School District and was teaching incarcerated juveniles. Investigators say the boys were assaulted in a bathroom next to the jailhouse classroom.

The victims are juveniles and their names were not made public.