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Saturday, July 13, 2024 at 5:54 AM

Central American Gyre could spawn more tropical storms

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS | Gary Borders

The first named system of this year’s hurricane season made landfall last week in Mexico, bringing significant rain to South Texas. Alice, 40 miles west of Corpus Christi, received more than 6 inches of rain, and McAllen saw more than 4 inches, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Now the Central American Gyre, a persistent rotating low-pressure system, is getting close scrutiny, as it may allow formation of other tropical depressions.

Hurricane forecasters predict an especially active season this season, which runs through Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an 85% chance for an abovenormal season. It is forecasting a range of 17 to 25 named storms this year.

STAAR scores in math, science decline Texas student scores in math and science showed marked drops in science comprehension, according to the Texas Education Agency. The 2024 results show declining math and science scores across all tested grade levels.

Only 34% of elementary and middle-school students met or mastered grade-level science, a drop of 5.7 percentage points from last year. Math scores also dropped slightly.

“Pandemic-induced disruptions to learning exacerbated students’ difficulties in mastering fundamental math concepts, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said. “As a result, we must keep our foot on the gas to intensify efforts in providing targeted interventions and research-based education strategies to ensure that students obtain necessary foundational skills and concepts and achieve the desired academic outcomes not only in math but across all subject areas.”

More detailed results for individual districts can be found at texasassessment.

gov.

Seven state hospital projects announced

Bolstered by $1.5 billion in funding passed last year by the Legislature, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has announced seven new state hospital projects to serve people in need of inpatient psychiatric services.

“Texas continues working to increase access to critical behavioral health treatments for Texans in every corner of our state,” Gov. Greg Abbott said.

The projects are in various stages of planning and design. They include: Panhandle State Hospital (Amarillo): Constructing a new state hospital to serve 75 patients in a nonmaximumsecurity unit.

Budget: $159 million.

Lubbock Psychiatric Center: Constructing a new state hospital with a 50-bed maximum-security unit. Budget: $121 million.

Terrell State Hospital: Constructing a 250-bed replacement hospital.

Budget: $573 million.

North Texas State Hospital – Wichita Falls: Constructing a 200-bed replacement hospital.

Budget: $452 million.

Rio Grande State Center (Harlingen): Expanding current facility to add a 50-bed maximum-security unit.

Budget: $120 million.

San Antonio State Hospital: Renovating an existing building to add a 40-bed maximum-security unit. Budget: $15 million.

El Paso Psychiatric Center: Planning and land acquisition to expand the current facility by 50 nonmaximum- security beds.

Budget: $50 million.

Influencers must disclose political payments

The Texas Ethics Commission will now require social media influencers to disclose if their content is a paid political advertisement, the Texas Standard reported.

The Texas Tribune previously reported that a company called Influenceable hired Gen-Z influencers to defend Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ahead of his impeachment trial last year.

“You know, attacking the House members who had been involved in the impeachment and overall just urging the Senate to acquit him,” Tribune managing editor Matthew Watkins told the Standard. “This was silently paid for by some right-wing activists and big-money people in Texas. Those influencers did not disclose that they were getting paid.”

The ethics commission did not mention the company by name while voting unanimously to require disclosure in the future of paid political content.

Military bases provide $151.2 billion economic impact

U.S. military installations in Texas contributed at least $151.2 billion to the state’s economy last year and supported more than 677,000 jobs across the state, according to a study by the state comptroller’s office.

The state is home to 15 major U.S. military installations, as well as the Army Futures Command headquarters.

Besides the economic impact, the military bases contribute to the state’s culture, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said.

“The installations are also vibrant and dynamic partners in the community, supporting not just business and industry but also schools, charities, youth sports and cultural events,” he said.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published several community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@ texaspress.com


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