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FWISD Expected to OK Financial Emergency & Nightly Roundup

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – They put it off a month, but Fort Worth School Board members are expected to declare financial exigency, or emergency, tonight, in the face of a $60 million shortfall over the next two years. The district's Clint Bond says that will clear the way for officials to eliminate 553 positions.

Bond: That doesn't mean we're going to reduce 553 employees. We have 553 positions that we've identified. Some of those are currently filled, and some not.

Bond says it's more like 186 people who face lay offs. That's after the early resignation incentives, that helped assure fewer staff cuts than feared.

Trustees will also consider controversial gas lease agreements. The district needs the money. But opponents say safety demands more distance between drill sites and nearby schools. Those who like the rules say current standards assure safety.

Budget deal would free up Texas education money

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is praising a deal that would cut the strings attached to $830 million in stimulus funds for Texas.

Perry has repeatedly blasted Austin congressman Lloyd Doggett for requiring Texas to use the money to boost education spending, not just use it to replace state funds.

Republicans negotiated the repeal of the Doggett amendment when it cut a deal to avoid a government shutdown. Congress is expected to approve the deal later this week.

Perry calls the Democratic measure a political stunt that never should have passed and is praising Republicans in Congress for getting it repealed.

Texas is facing a $27 billion budget shortfall over the next two years.

Texas lawmakers back off concealed carry on campus

Just two months ago, Texas looked ready to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their guns in college classrooms.

Lawmakers were lining up to sponsor a bill, pistol-packing Gov. Rick Perry supported it and gun control activists had all but conceded defeat.

Then students and administrators from the state's universities mobilized in opposition, swaying two Democratic lawmakers who had supported the bill.

The two senators - Mario Gallegos of Houston and Eddie Lucio of Brownsville - have universities in their districts and say they've gotten calls from students, parents and administrators.

Without them, the bill's sponsor hasn't had enough support to get a vote in the state Senate. Two attempts in the past week have failed, but he says he'll keep trying.

Bush discusses economy at Dallas conference

Former President George W. Bush says he is optimistic the U.S. economy can get back on track through accelerated growth.

Bush on Tuesday gave one of his first speeches on the topic since leaving office. He told a conference in Dallas the nation is great enough to achieve a 4 percent domestic product growth rate.

The George W. Bush Institute has cited reaching 4 percent as one of its top goals. The U.S. economy has grown an average of about 3.5 percent a year since the 1950s.

Bush also spoke about his decision while in office to offer a government bailout. He says he would make the same decision again. He says the focus going forward should be on growth, not regulation.