AUSTIN - With clogged credit markets and stocks zooming up and down, Gov. Rick Perry on Oct. 15 asked state agencies to limit travel and cut discretionary spending before the slowdown in the national economy hits Texas.

On the same day, Perry sent out a news release quoting an Oct. 10 Forbes magazine story rating cities across the nation.

The story says “the economic storm sweeping the country has left Americans with few places to hide. But those looking to hunker down might want to head to Texas, where they can get the best value for their dollar.”

According to the Forbes story, Austin and San Antonio top the list of places where money goes farthest.

“Residents of (Austin and San Antonio) enjoy affordable housing and promising prospects for job growth in coming years. Houston and Dallas also land in the top 10, at Nos. 4 and 7, respectively.”

Forbes quoted economist Andrew Gledhill of Moody’s who said military bases in San Antonio are a draw that spurs widespread job growth.

“Texas, as a whole, is one of the few economies that’s performing extremely well because of the energy and technology sectors,” Gledhill told Forbes.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics show the jobless rate in the Lone Star State is at 5 percent, or 1 percent lower than the national unemployment rate.

Youth commission gets new chief

Gov. Perry on Oct. 14 named Cherie Townsend of Austin as executive commissioner of the Texas Youth Commission and removed the agency from conservatorship.

The TYC was placed in conservatorship in March 2007 after state officials received allegations of various forms of abuse and reports of failures and wrong-doing by staff.

The agency’s stated mission is to provide for the care, custody, rehabilitation and reestablishment of Texas’ most chronically delinquent and serious juvenile offenders, ages 10 to 19.

Townsend succeeds Richard Nedelkoff, who Perry named conservator and acting executive director of the TYC in December 2007. Nedelkoff succeeded Ed Owens who for six months served as conservator and acting executive director of the agency.

AG calls for tougher laws

The Texas attorney general’s fugitive unit on Oct. 9 tracked down and arrested a Dallas man wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

The man, a convicted sex predator, was caught operating a sexually oriented Web site.

After the arrest, Attorney General Greg Abbott said the case indicates that tougher laws are needed to ensure law enforcement can properly monitor known sexual predators.

Abbott recommended that registered sex offenders be required to supplement existing registration data by also providing the Texas Department of Public Safety with their e-mail addresses and online identities, mobile telephone numbers, social networking aliases and other electronic identification information.

State money Web site wins award

The Center for Digital Government on Oct. 14 presented the Office of the Texas Comptroller with two 2008 Best of Texas awards.

An award for Best Technology Solution Serving the Public went to the agency for Where the Money Goes, a virtual check register providing details on state agency expenditures.

The Visionary Award was presented to Victor Gonzalez, director of innovation and chief technology officer for the comptroller’s office, for “a vision of government made more accessible, more efficient, more open and more accountable through the use of technology.”

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute focusing on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

Early voting begins across Texas

Early voting takes place from Oct. 20-31 in all of Texas’ 254 counties. Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade on Oct. 17 suggested that Texans vote early in the Nov. 4 general election.

“I encourage voters to take advantage of the convenience afforded by

the early voting period. “We anticipate a large voter turnout for the general election. By voting early you can avoid the long lines we expect to see on

Election Day,” Andrade said.