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Top Stories: Sales Tax Revenue Up In Texas; New Telepsychiatry Program Helps Police

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Allison Lee for Houston Public Media
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Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Jose Gomez, 31, brings out his iPad for the new Telepsychiatry pilot program.

The top local stories this evening from KERA News:

Texas is generating more money from sales taxes. State Comptroller Glenn Hegar said sales tax revenue totaled $2.74 billion last month, which is 6.9 percent more than in July 2017.  

The most notable increases were from oil and gas mining and manufacturing, as well as wholesale trade, restaurants and services.

“Recent tax collections have also been boosted by a tax amnesty,” said Hegar, “including more than $39 million in delinquent state sales tax revenue, most of which was processed in July.”

  

Total sales tax revenue for the three months ending in July 2018 was up 10.2 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Sales tax revenue accounts for 58 percent of all tax collections.

Other stories this evening:

  • A pilot program in the Harris County sheriff's office is getting national attention. It's aimed at a costly problem facing the county, and other counties across Texas: how to avoid sending so many people who suffer from mental illnesses to hospitals, or even to jail. Harris County's new telepsychiatry initiative uses iPads to connect deputies in the field with counselors and psychiatrists.

 

  • 'Hand to God' is a raunchy comedy that earned five Tony nominations in 2015 and became the most produced new play in America. The playwright, Rob Askins, has ties to North Texas. But his play hasn't opened on a stage in the area, until now. KERA's Jerome Weeks interviewed Askins just before his play opened on Broadway. For this week's Art & Seek Spotlight, we re-visit that interview, just as WaterTower Theatre in Addison gives 'Hand to God' its North Texas premiere.

You can listen to North Texas stories weekdays at 8:22 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.