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Texas Emerging From Economic Slump & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – State budget officials say Texas is slowly emerging from a 14-month economic slump. The slide has left sales tax revenue down $1.4 billion compared to this time last year. It's also contributed to a shortfall that could reach as high as $18 billion for the next two-year state budget.

But GOP state Comptroller Susan Combs on Tuesday said Texas is "definitely on the path to recovery."

Small but steady growth in the state's largest revenue stream is expected to stretch into a fourth month this week when Combs releases the state's sales tax returns for July.

The gains since April have been minimal and not yet enough to erase the $1.4 billion year-to-date deficit in sales tax revenue compared to the first ten months of the previous fiscal year.

Virgin America: nonstop DFW to LA, San Francisco

Virgin America in December will begin serving Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, offering nonstop flights to Los Angeles and to San Francisco.

The service was announced Tuesday.

Virgin America, which is a San Francisco-based carrier established in 2007, will become the 11th domestic carrier at DFW Airport.

The Los Angeles service from DFW, with two daily flights, will begin Dec. 1. San Francisco service, also with two flights daily, starts Dec. 6.

Drawls welcome: TxDOT tests phone info line

That drawl from y'all could help the Texas Department of Transportation update its phone line for travel information.

The agency on Tuesday launched its interactive voice response interface for the Texas Travel Information Line, at 1-800-452-9292.

The new system, for several weeks, will be "learning" to understand voices. The first 10,000 calls will add to months of testing by TxDOT to help the automated system understand different tones and accents.

Deputy Executive Director Steve Simmons says the agency needs callers, and their different accents, to help the system with certain words and phrases.

The system is programmed to recognize names of more than 1,200 cities and towns, plus multiple names for the same highway, such as "MoPac" and "Loop 1" in Austin.