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Border Delays Negatively Impacting U.S. Businesses

Border Delays Negatively Impacting U.S. Businesses

Many of us predicted this but it’s really starting to take a foothold. President Trump’s border policies are starting to impact American companies and factories. More and more cargo from Mexico headed to the U.S. is being delayed at the border. Consequently, these extended delays are causing companies to dampen their economic outlook for the year.

Analysts are currently predicting that the effects of the border policies will dim second quarter non-residential investment growth. In fact, it already produced a two-year low in factory gauge in April. Ultimately, the slower trade between the countries because of Federal Agents being charged with dealing with the migrant situation at the border, has led to additional shipping costs.

According to economist Stephen Juneau, “the delays generate a meaningful direct cost for businesses.” Furthermore, these delays may really have a large impact on the movement of goods as more than 86% of imports from Mexico enter by land.

The Situation is Impacting Everyone

Even worse, analysts are predicting that this slowdown is here to stay for a while. With the border delays comes a dip in the production of goods. This is not a good thing for the American consumer or an economy that otherwise is generally thriving. Everybody’s watching the situation closely because all businesses, as well as the consumer, are impacted. For instance, many businesses are receiving supplies far later than when they need them.

Plus, these delays are messing with company logistics. And it’s not just in Texas but supply chains are being affected in the Southwest and the Midwest. On top of this headache, the ultimate cost to U.S. businesses per truckload is about $40 to $80 per day. This isn’t good for cost conscious companies with previous sunny profit projections.

Surely this unplanned for cost by companies is hurting not just their bottom line but their ability to invest and hire.

What do you all think? Are these border policies worth it?

Closing US/Mexico Border Would Badly Harm Trucking

Closing US/Mexico Border Would Badly Harm Trucking

Due to the incredible volume of trade that happens between the U.S. and Mexico on a daily basis, Bob Costello, the American Trucking Associations chief economist and senior vice president of international trade policy and border crossing operations, said he hoped President Donald Trump would reconsider the idea of closing the border. According to Costello, if it did happen it would be best to exclude trucks.

Costello went on to make a statement emphasizing how trucks haul more than $1.1 billion worth of goods back and forth from the Mexico border every single day. According to Costello, this equals more than 25,000 truck crossings in either direction on a daily basis. Let’s face it, that’s an incredible amount of trade activity.

Costello broke down the dynamics of all this trade even more. “Last year, just to haul freight to and from Mexico, the American trucking industry employed over 31,000 U.S. truck drivers and nearly 47,000 total workers to support this truck-transported trade.”

Furthermore, this aggregate business produced more than $6.6 billion in revenue last year alone. Also, U.S. truck drivers were compensated something close to $2 billion in wages to haul all this cargo.

Worst Case Scenarios

It goes without saying that free and open trade is crucial to the vitality of the U.S. economy and even more vital to the trucking world. If this flow of trade is disrupted then it would have a seismic impact. That impact could total up to $18 million a day. Plus, there’d be even further consequences. If trade at the border shut down for up to four days, several U.S. factories will shut down. This would create even more economic headaches.

Costello goes on to theorize that the shut-down would stimulate an even greater slippery slope. He imagines that ultimately a recession would come into play. With all that being said, it would be wise to keep the borders open for business.

What do you guys think? Is Trump’s threats of border closing a disaster waiting to happen?

Fast Food Prices Going Up from the Trucker Shortage??

Fast Food Prices Going Up from the Trucker Shortage??

The trucker shortage seems like its impacting everyone now. What’s the latest? Even fast food companies, like McDonald’s Corp., Jack in the Box Inc., and more might see a rise in prices. The country just doesn’t have enough truck drivers anymore. It is impossible to deliver everything that people want to buy in a timely fashion. As such… companies are feeling the effects, which means consumers are likely to as well.

Michael Norwich, owner of fourteen Jack in the Box restaurants in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico, is nervous. He doesn’t know if they can keep the longstanding advertised $4.99 combo meal price any longer. The shortage is impacting the costs of distribution. Soon, our convenient fast food and product prices might start crawling up. And when will it stop?

In fact, even Procter & Gamble Co., Hasbro Inc., and Church & Dwight Co. may be upping prices. Their freight is costing extra, so we soon might be paying more for everyday things. Crest toothpaste… Arm & Hammer cat litter and more. Even My Little Pony figurines may be increasing in price.

How can we fix the problem?

This is simply because there are not enough drivers to do the work. And this becomes a long-term issue which will likely get worse. Some of this information comes from Lee Klaskow, an analyst from Bloomberg Intelligence.

Although legislators are attempting to lower the minimum age to 18 for long-haul drivers, it might not help the problem. Since insurance is higher for younger drivers, many of the younger drivers likely would avoid the job entirely. In addition, the industry has been trying to recruit more women to up the numbers.

The shortage impacts the trucking industry throughout the nation. Now, it’s becoming the consumer’s problem too. What do you think about the rise in prices due to the trucker shortage??

Safer Streets in Austin! The Goal for No More Traffic Deaths

Safer Streets in Austin! The Goal for No More Traffic Deaths

Texas streets are growing more and more dangerous by the year, especially in the big cities. But, luckily for Austin residents – our streets may be getting safer!

The Pedestrian Advisory Council gathered some data recently. The results? Traffic deaths and serious injuries in San Antonio and Dallas are climbing over the last decade. Houston is also going up, but at a bit of a slower rate. So, what’s the deal with Austin?

Somehow, Austin traffic deaths have decreased since 2015. In fact, this past year, in 2018, there were seventy-four vehicular fatalities, according to the Austin Police Department. While the number is still high given the Austin population, it is better than previously – two less than the year before. This means that the streets are about as safe as they were back in 2004.  

The Goal

Perhaps the reason is that Austin’s goal under Vision Zero is to eliminate all traffic deaths by the year 2025. Austin City Council members approved this Action Plan about three years ago now. Since then, there have been less fatalities each year. But, more needs to happen to get the number down to zero.

Essentially, safety needs to be the top priority. Apparently, in the traffic fatalities last year, most occurred on roads that are owned by the Texas Department of Transportation. And, 26% of traffic deaths throughout the city happened on Interstate 35. Additionally, over last year, pedestrians accounted for 42% of the deaths. This number went up since the previous year.

Jay Blazek Crossley, the executive director for Farm & City, the nonprofit that pushes for safer transit in Texas, discussed this. He said that street design, as well as speed of cars, attributes to these deaths. Maybe, officials will begin looking at these streets with excess pedestrian deaths, and modify them accordingly.

What do you think about the streets of Austin? Can the city really bring the fatality number to zero?

Why Are Austin Locals Mad at Truckers?

Why Are Austin Locals Mad at Truckers?

Lately, East Austin locals are upset with the number of truckers illegally driving through neighborhood streets. The issue has been both causing both damage and traffic in residential streets.

Residents claim that local neighborhood streets cannot handle the weight of these oversized vehicles. Also, many of the neighborhoods are lined with trees that hang over the streets. More often than not, large vehicles will knock down branches from these beautiful trees.

Recent construction on major streets caused this issue. Sadly, truckers frequenting these streets have become more accustomed to using these streets.

Many of the locals do not blame the truckers, for they know they’re just trying to get their job done. Although, a lot of people do blame the construction and development agencies. Concerned residents have been inviting these businesses to neighborhood association meetings and have been trying to alert individuals of the problem. The association has claimed that they have attempted to notify these companies which streets are legal, but to no avail.

If the problem persists, locals are urging for speed bumps on certain streets. The request has been sent to the City of Austin’s Transportation Department, but it is still pending.

One company that has been noticed driving through the no-truck-zones is Texas Concrete.  The company claims that they’ll remind drivers which roads are okay to use. The Austin Police Department has received many complaints about this issue.

Police advise that if trucks are going to a construction site within the neighborhood, it is fine to travel through it. If not, it’s best to avoid residential streets to also avoid a citation!

Attorney General VS. Immigrant Advocates

Attorney General VS. Immigrant Advocates

As of last summer, the U.S Department of Justice established that those who enter the country illegally or  “undocumented immigrants” are now referred to as “illegal aliens.” This rule caused a backlash from the community when acting attorney general came to visit in Austin, Texas.

While giving a speech to the U.S. attorney’s in Austin, Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, came off as somewhat abrasive. Whitaker used the term, illegal aliens, over ten times and once stated “over 100,000 illegals” were residing in the city.

Many outraged immigrant advocates called attention to the conference.
When applied to people, the term “illegal” looks degrading. This title establishes a negative connotation. A person cannot be illegal and this title takes away a person’s individuality. Many people automatically assume that the person did something wrong. Although technically the title is true, they are not committing any illegal acts.

Clearly, Whitaker has a side on the issue. Although he never publicly pushed for Trump’s wall, he has criticized efforts that slow down the obstruction of immigration. Whitaker also brought up only a few extreme cases in which undocumented immigrants have broken the law. One specific example, Juan Lopez, acquired a sentence for 49 years in prison. Deported after conviction for homicide, Lopez returned to the country. Shortly after, he returned illegally to sexually assault a woman as her child watched. This is a specific example and one of, as Whitaker says, 100,000 undocumented people in the city.

Whitaker declined all questions after his conference. The remainder of his time in office is short, and he seems to know that.

So, is Whitaker’s justified? Is his use of the term correct?  How does it look that the attorney general won’t respond to the media? 

Rising property taxes in Texas: Will Gov. Abbott’s plan lower them?

Rising property taxes in Texas: Will Gov. Abbott’s plan lower them?

The Property Tax Problem

Are your property taxes sky-high? The effects of property taxes and homeowner’s association fees has been devastating for many Texas families! According to Republican Gov. Greg Abott’s ex-spokeswoman, Ciara Matthews, “Texas homeowners are suffering under the burden of skyrocketing property taxes.”

In the upcoming legislative session in January, conservative Texas lawmakers are promising to work on this. Will lawmakers come to a solution that makes everyone happy? It is unclear. But what is clear is Abbott’s promise to Texans during his re-election campaign.

texas property taxesAbbott said he would make creating a new property tax relief plan a top priority. He claims he doesn’t want to see rising bills forcing more people from their homes. Matthews also stated: “[Abbott] looks forward to working with the Legislature to identify strategies that end runaway property taxes, while dedicating more funding for public education to ensure students receive the best education possible.”

 

What’s Abbott going to do?

Abbot’s proposed plan seems more conservative than the two plans rejected by Legislature last year. Those plans would have cut off city and county property tax increases at 4 or 6 percent a year. Abbott’s plan offers a 2.5 percent cap. It also uses school taxing districts – which may make it difficult for voters to avoid the increases.

Abbott’s plan works like this: if property values increase by 6 percent each year, the taxing district will have to decrease the tax rate to collect only 2.5 percent more in revenue than the year prior. While the rate will be smaller, the tax bill will rise.

Criticism

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings chimed in: “[Abbott’s plan] would limit our ability to provide sufficient pay raises for city employees or to properly fund public safety. The plan also seems to ignore the fact that overhead costs, such as energy, are rising.”

Bennett Sandlin, Texas Municipal League executive director, said: “It’s bad for cities, and cities are the biggest providers of public safety.” Basically, the cap would cause cities to have to make budget cuts. The cuts would impact public safety the most.

What about schools?

On the surface, Abbott’s plan is positive for schools. Under the 2.5 percent cap, school districts would lose money. He wants to use state revenue to in exchange for that lost money. This is an effort to lower schools’ dependence on local money.

But, critics say that the proposal doesn’t outline how the state would replace these missing funds. What happens if the state under-funds schools, and they are left worse off?

One thing is sure – Abbott’s plan will be under scrutiny once officially proposed. Texans won’t know the fate of property taxes, or public schools’ funding, until the upcoming legislative session.

First Ever Waterloo Festival in Austin: “Glamorous” Camping Options

Austin festivalFirst ever Waterloo Music Festival! This sounds pretty exciting, right?

This past weekend was fun in Austin. Despite the wet weather, hundreds of people were gathered at Carson Creek Ranch for the first ever Waterloo Music Festival.

Rainy weather in Austin didn’t stop festival goers from enjoying the Waterloo Music Festival.

“It’s a wonderful thing when music fans just don’t care about the weather,” said Dave Machinist, one of the festival organizers. Real music lovers came to enjoy the music, despite the fact that it was drizzling here and there.

The festival introduces a three –day event featuring  All –Americana sounds blending folk and bluegrass.

“The Americana roots of our music scene have been kind of underrepresented, so we felt like it was time to change that”, said Steve Sternschein, a producer of the festival. For attendees who wanted to stay overnight, there was a camp out options available, such as vehicle parking with a tent space, RV camping and ‘’glamping’’.

The latter is a glamorous way of spending the night. Let’s agree that having an air conditioning options, bed and other amenities at the camp is really glamorous.

The team who organized the festival also thought about the weather conditions. A festival spokesperson said the festival has a full team of safety experts and plan in place. First ever Waterloo festival sold single-day passes starting at $99 dollars. Those camping out paid a couple hundred dollars extra.

The doors of the festival opened up on Friday at 2 p.m. at the Carson Creek Ranch near State Highway 71 and US Highway 183.

Attendees of the festivals were enjoying music performances, taking pictures in front of a mural painted by Austin’s Drew Lormand and just having a good time.

The event wraps up on Sunday night. The organizers are looking forward to having an even better Waterloo Music Festival next year.

 

Texas Schools Are Starting Early This Year: Districts of Innovation

Texas Schools Are Starting Early This Year: Districts of Innovation

Texas Austin School earlyCentral Texas school start early this year. This year the first bell rings early for almost all Central Texas public school students. School start dates are from July 24 to Aug.27.

Most Austin-area districts are taking advantage of another law to start school early.

The majority of Austin-area traditional school districts have become ‘’districts of innovation’’.

Districts say starting school earlier allows them to better balance the number of days in the fall and spring.

Two Austin charter schools opened at the end of July. A charter school in Round Rock will open on Wednesday.

Traditional schools will follow this and open their doors to students on August 15.

In 2007 the state-mandated school start dates no earlier than the end of August.

Most districts in Central Texas are taking advantage of a 3-year-old law that gives traditional public school districts autonomy to start earlier along with charter schools.

The so-called district of innovation designation gives districts the autonomy to hire noncertified teachers. The goal is to develop a nhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_schoolew system which will differ from a state-designed system.

The new system will offer larger student-to-teacher classroom ratios.

The freedom to start schools early is beneficial for schools to better balance the number of days between the fall and spring semesters. It also allows taking a week off during Thanksgiving.

The majority of Texas school districts are now districts of innovation. Becoming a district of innovation requires months of planning, public meetings, and an innovation plan.

One of the benefits of the innovated schools is that high school students enroll in summer college courses for dual credit. Starting school early allows students to enroll in college courses at the end of May. Before they didn’t get a chance to do it, because the school year often ended too late for students.

Early start dates of school allow to extend the length of school days and make up for missing days, most probably happened because of weather.

Round Rock District Superintendent Steve Flores said that assessment of the designation will give the best opportunities for students and will expand their flexibility.

An Anonymous Donation of 3M Dollars Will Cover Tuition for Medical Students

An Anonymous Donation of 3M Dollars Will Cover Tuition for Medical Students

austin news donationA very generous anonymous donor donated over $3 million to a new class of medical students so they can cover their tuition at the University of Houston.

On Wednesday, the university announced that the giant gift will cover the entire cost of tuition for the inaugural class of the UH College of Medicine. 30 students will be included in the class and they will begin school in the fall of 2020.

Renu Khator, President of the University of Houston said, “Student debt is the number one deterrent for students when applying to medical school. This generous gift will allow such students an opportunity to attend and ultimately lead the future medical workforce. As a result, the UH College of Medicine will increase access to primary care, enhance the quality of life and strengthen Houston as a business destination.”

The college will be the university’s 15th academic college and will train primary care physicians with a focus on underserved communities in Houston and across the state.

It is believed that the free tuition will be an incentive and draw even more competitive candidates to the first application pool.

“It’s going to be a different school with a different curriculum,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, dean of the future UH Medical School. “Secondly, it’s new. And that offers students an opportunity to help shape the learning environment. And third, for this first class, they get to go tuition-free for four years.”

A preference will be given to students who are from Texas and have an interest in practicing medicine in Texas after they graduate, according to Spann.

“We really want to train people who will practice in underserved areas of our state, both inner-city and rural, because we have great needs in both,” Spann said.

The process of construction on the new school has yet not started and must first be approved by the state legislature. It will also need to be accredited.

Applications to the medical school will be accepted by the school in the next year.

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