State of Texas: Trump’s Austin visit and a lawsuit facing Governor Abbott

State of Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Donald Trump visited Austin on Wednesday to tour a manufacturing facility for Apple computers and highlight how the company is keeping jobs in America amid the impeachment hearing and the trade war with China.

The President’s visit comes after months of back-and-forth with Apple over tariffs on their Mac Pro parts. The company assembles the computers at the Flex facility in northwest Austin, but it gets specific parts from China.

The discussion started back in late June when President Trump threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods.

Apple later announced it planned to move Mac Pro assembly from Austin to China. The company said Trump’s tariffs would make it too expensive to assemble the product in Austin.

Apple applied for a waiver on those tariffs in July. About a week later Trump tweeted Apple would not get the waiver, and said they need to make those parts in the U.S.

However, on Sep. 19 Apple was granted the waiver, and four days later they made the official announcement to keep production in Austin.

This isn’t the end of tariffs on Apple products. Another round of tariffs will hit Dec. 15 and put a 15% levy on Apply products like the iPhone and iPad.

Trump said whether those tariffs pass or not will depends if China makes a deal.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “We have a little ways to go. We’re taking in – it will soon be hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs, which we never did before. China never paid us 10 cents, but we’re looking forward to it.”

CEO of Apple Tim Cook was with the President on Wednesday. Cook said he does not want the tariffs to pass.

“Well I hope that it doesn’t come to pass but it’s the President’s decision,” Cook said.

The facility Trump toured is not new, and the plant itself is owned by Flex. It has been manufacturing Mac Pros since 2013.

Apple did break grounds on a new campus that morning, also in northwest Austin. It will be Apple’s second largest headquarters.

Trump’s Visit and Texas Jobs

The new Apple facility, which is expected to open in 2022, will bring new jobs to Austin. Jeff Moseley, CEO of Texas Association of Business, said this demonstrates the value of government and corporations coming together to grow jobs and paychecks.

“There’s really few things that government does that’s as significant as having a stable robust solid economy and announcing new jobs, bringing jobs from offshore onshore and bringing capital into the economy that’s a big announcement,” Moseley said.

However, not everyone was as happy with Trump’s visit, and union leaders spoke out.

The Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations co-hosted a workers round table with local politicians just hours before Trump’s arrival.

Ricky Levy, Texas AFL-CIO president, said they are excited about the growth of Apple, but this one event does not capture the whole story of the Texas economy.

“A photo opp highlighting one corporate decision to bring jobs to this community doesn’t outweigh the massive damage and wreckage that’s occurring in other parts of this state and this country,” Levy said.

Rep. John Bucy also shared his views with the round table. He emphasized the need for policies that would help all workers.

“It’s time to get to where we pass paid sick leave for all, raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for equal work, make college affordable, expand apprenticeships and job training programs and keep good Texas jobs here,” Bucy said.

Julian Castro and the Democratic Debate

If you watched the Democratic Debate Wednesday night you might have noticed this is the first time in this election cycle there were no Texans on the debate stage.

Julian Castro did not qualify for the debate, but that did not stop him from participating on Twitter.

He posted his answer to each debate question, and he also trended on Twitter during the debate. His campaign reported they had their best fundraising day in a month.

“One of the frustrating things about these debates is that we never get to truly address so many of the issues that matter to the lives of Americans out there in our country,” Castro said.

Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, said he thinks the Castro campaign is pretty clearly not going to succeed at the presidential ballot, but Castro is a potential choice for vice president.

“You know, when you finally get a Democratic presidential nominee and they begin looking around for who might be the number two on the ticket, Castro brings some things to the ticket,” Ramsey said. “In states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, having a Hispanic on the ticket could be a real plus.”

Texas Tribune’s lawsuit for inaugural spending numbers

Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick set records for fundraising and spending for their 2019 inauguration. However, a report by the Texas Tribune is raising questions about where the money went. Now, journalists at the Tribune are turning to the courts to find answers.

According to the report, more than $1.8 million of the $5.3 million raised for the inaugural event went to fundraising, professional fees and inaugural committee salaries. The Tribune report found that fundraising alone made up 19% of the $4.9 million raised by donors.

Data from the Tribune shows that inaugural spending has more than doubled under Abbott. Former Governor Rick Perry reported his highest spending inauguration was about $2 million.

Jay Root, one of the writers of the Tribune story, said they compared the spending to other states and even the presidential inauguration, and the amount given to fundraisers is extreme.

“The fundraisers got an extraordinary 19% of the money,” Root said. “We’re told by fundraisers that’s just off the charts.”

Credit: Carla Astudillo and the Texas Tribune

The Tribune has requested for the 2019 spending records, but the inaugural committee will not give up the information.

The Texas Tribune has filed a lawsuit to get spending information from the committee, and both the Governor and Secretary of State were named in the lawsuit.

The Tribune’s lawyer Bill Aleshire said this is the first time in 50 years he’s seen something like this.

Aleshire said the committee is trying to prevent the Tribune from finding what records existed, who’s got them, where they are now.

“This case is going to test the idea that state officials can get together and conceal records of how $5.3 million was spent by a (state) agency, regardless of whether it’s public funds or not it’s spent by a state agency, by simply making the state agency disappear or at least go in hiding,” Aleshire said.

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