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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 3, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY June 3, 2003 I2 pages in 2 sections ■■HBM •mmmmm    IC    pagCS    in    C    ©CCIHHerald-Zeitung Vol. 149, No. 263 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents State budget cuts could most harm the needy State Budget Highlights Staff, wire reports AUSTIN — State lawmakers must begin the laborious task of combing through legislation passed Sunday night to make sure all the money budget writers counted on will come through. The $117.4 million budget, set to begin Sept. I, must be certified by Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn before Gov. Rick Perry can sign it. Strayhorn has hinted she may not be OK with parts of it, including using the $1 billion emergency Rainy Day Fund. Tired lawmakers narrowly beat the clock Sunday, passing a final version of the 2004-05 state budget just three hours before the midnight deadline The vote in the House was 105-41 in favor of the only bill that legislators are legally required to approve. The Senate passed the bill 24-7. The budget bill is CSHB1. The two-year spending plan depends on $58.2 billion in state general revenue, a IO percent decline from the current budget. Federal funds and other funds make up the rest of the budget. Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said Monday the two-year spending plan cuts hundreds of thousands of Tbxans off healthcare and See BUDGETT The state's $117.4 billion two-year spending plan depends on $58.2 billion in state general revenue, a 10 percent decline from the current budget. The rest of the budget is federal and other funds. Highlights include: • A $1.2 billion boost to public education; some education-related spending was cut such as $182 million for textbooks and millions for teachers health ihsurance. In all, $33.9 billion in state and federal money will bg allocated to Texas schools. • Higher education funding of $16.2 billion does not fully fund the Texas Grant scholarship program that offers free tuition to Texas graduates from working families. Some 14,485 students would not get grants in 2004 and 25,000 won’t get them in 2005, according to the Higher Education Coordinating Board. The budget allows public universities to set their own tuition instead of lawmakers to make up for budget cuts. • Forty-three percent of the budget, $50.1 billion, is spent on public and higher See HIGHLIGHTS/7A Weathercasters foresee long, hot, dry summer By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer A quick-moving storm swept through Comal County late Monday afternoon, dumping much-needed rain on fields and yards. And while more rain could fall this week, weather forecasters said the small amounts of precipitation will do Uttle to alleviate growing concerns about a long, dry summer. Nezette Rydell, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service office at the New Braunfels airport, said last month was the driest ever May on record for San Antonio, and the third-driest May for Austin. “Putting us between those two [cities], we were very dry,” said Rydell. “And April was very dry for those two cities.” Mondays storm was a wel come relief for some areas of the county. Rain fell hard for several minutes, and winds and lightning caused some aggravation for emergency service crews. Police reported signs along the construction on 1-35 blown down by the winds; there was one report of a tree being struck by lightning and power lines being knocked down. And in the 1700 block of Broadmoor, a power t ransformer caught fire. Rydell said Comal County could see small showers later in the week. There is a chance of rain Thursday evening and Friday. The weekend forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of rain. But after that, Rydell said weather patterns indicate another dry spell of perhaps IO days or more. ‘The only way we get rain See WEATHERSTax hike clears first reading BV DYLAN JIMENEZ Staff Writer The final public hearing on the budget and tax luke proved uneventful Monday night. New Braunfels City Council members unanimously approved the first reading of ordinances that increased property taxes and set the fiscal year 2004 budget. The six-cent tax increase and the proposed budget must go through two more readings before becoming law. The next reading will be June 9, and the final reading is set for June ll.Inside Abby.................5A Classifieds.............4-6B Comics...............8A Forum................6A Local/State.............4    A Movies................5A Sports...............1-2B Today.  ..............2A a 56825 00002    8 Teens congregate to lend the elderly helping hands By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer More than 20 kids were being sprayed lightly with a power washer to beat the heat Monday afternoon. The group is one of ll crews working on the exteriors of seven local homes. Starting Monday, New Braunfels Church of Christ is hosting more than 120 students from around South Tfexas for the regionally orchestrated assistance program. The projects should wrap up by Wednesday, and crews will be treated with a trip to Fiesta Tbxas. Crews are painting and doing yard work for the elderly, widows and others who are unable to take care of the exterior of their home. Heather Bushnell, New Braunfels Church of Christ member, was working with a crew scraping the paint off the exterior of a house on Common Street. Wood trim around the roof of the home will have to be replaced and repainted, along with the rest of the house exterior. Other crews are mowing lawns, trimming trees and hauling trash.See HELPING HANDS/7A DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Kristina Vamer (left) and Emily Bushnell scrape the paint off the back of Vi Neill’s home on Merriweather Street Monday. The two girls are part of a “work camp" sponsored locally by the New Braunfels Church of Christ. A fond farewell (Above) Newly graduated seniors Dwyatt Jackson, Kerie Anthony and Brad Ewers (from left) share a happy moment following the customary tossing of their caps. (Left) Krystal Rose Tomlin flashes the crowd her sentiments as she crosses the stage to get her diploma. Photos by K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Smithson Valley High seniors Amber Bantz (left) Kerie Anthony share a hug shortly after being pronounced graduates Sunday afternoon. The two were among the many students sporting personalized caps. 432 SVHS students graduate By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer SAN MARCOS — Right up to the very last minute, members of Smithson Valley High Sch(x>l’s Class of 2003 were arriving for graduation services Sunday. As family members settled quietly into chairs at Southwest Texas State University’s Stra-han Coliseum, things were a much more hectic backstage. “They've taken your names off," one teacher said as she told three boys to hurry up and get in line. Josh Benoit was ready to get going. ‘Tm glad I’m out of high school. Tm ready to go to college, I guess," he said. Benoit plans to attend the University of Tbxas at San Antonio. It was the only college he applied to. But in his final minutes as an SVHS senior, he admitted he would miss high school. “It’s kind of like a play period, right before you get into the real world,” Benoit said as he looked around at his 432 fellow seniors. They were serious, rushed, happy and proud all at once, as they straightened their caps and gowns. Abbie Ellington was ready for her big moment. “I’m ready to get out of here. I’m ready to go to college,” Ellington said, smiling. “It was a See GRADS/7A ;