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House Committee Passes Budget With Steep Cuts & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – A Texas House committee has passed a bare-bones budget that makes deep cuts to state services over the next two years. The plan approved Wednesday would spend $77.6 billion in state money but underfund public schools by almost $8 billion and leave a $4 billion hole in the state health and human services budget.

That's after an agreement to use the state's Rainy Day fund that gave legislators an extra $4 billion to lessen cuts.

The partisan vote sends the budget to the House scheduling committee where it will be set for consideration by the full House.

Police tape: Dallas mayor said his wife had knife

A tape that Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway fought to keep private shows he told police that his wife, a state representative, had a knife during an argument earlier this year.

Caraway says on the tape released Wednesday that he and Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway were arguing because she was going to throw away some old aprons. He went into another room and closed the door. He said she slid the knife through a crack in a door, but he didn't believe she wanted to hurt him.

Caraway sought to stop the tape's release by saying it was a private matter that didn't warrant public disclosure. A judge refused that late Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Mallory Caraway said she was not immediately available for comment.

Hispanics now majority in Texas public schools

Hispanic students for the first time make up the majority of students enrolled in Texas public schools.

The Texas Education Agency reports Hispanic students this school year account for 50.2 percent of the state's 4.9 million children enrolled in public schools, including pre-kindergarten and early childhood education.

Currently, there are an estimated 2.48 million Hispanics students in Texas public schools.

Hispanics last year made up nearly 49 percent of the students.

TEA spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said Tuesday that the Hispanic population is the fastest-growing group of students.

Texas lawmakers are dealing with a projected $15 billion budget shortfall in the next two-year spending period. Possible funding cuts for public education have been discussed.

Fort Worth father arrested over toddler's death

The father of a 2-year-old North Texas girl who police say died after being scalded on her legs has been arrested.

Fort Worth police on Wednesday announced the arrest of 25-year-old Charles Bellamy.

Bellamy was sought on a warrant for injury to a child/serious bodily injury. He also faces probation revocation on an assault count, plus several traffic warrants.

Bellamy was in the city jail with no bond set. No attorney was listed for Bellamy, who surrendered Tuesday night.

Investigators say Bellamy had been watching Jazmine Howard on March 15 when she suffered severe leg burns, allegedly while taking a bath.

Paramedics had responded to a call to a Fort Worth home about a child's possible drowning. The girl was dead at the scene.

Tanker planes used to fight West Texas wildfires

Tanker planes will be used to help dump water on wind-driven wildfires in West Texas.

The Texas Forest Service on Wednesday said a 1,000 acre fire at the Ralph Keller Ranch in Brewster county has grown due to strong winds and low humidity. The agency said four single-engine air tankers were moved to Fort Stockton on Tuesday night to assist with trying to contain the blaze.

Two homes were damaged and 20 were saved as crews contained a 300-acre wildfire just southeast of Midland.

The Texas Forest Service this year has responded to more than 460 fires that have burned nearly a quarter of a million acres. At least 142 structures have been destroyed.