Friday, September 3, 2010

Doggett fires back at Perry over jobs bill money

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, released a statement today in response to a scathing letter from Gov. Rick Perry to school administrators blasting Doggett's amendment in the federal jobs bill that required Texas meet stricter stipulations than other states to receive its share of the money.

Here's Doggett's statement:

Federal aid to education should actually aid education in our local Texas schools.  I understand that Governor Perry fears accountability for using these federal taxpayer dollars for their intended purpose.

  It is almost as if the Governor felt he was entitled to his own blank check federal bailout.  All his rhetoric and excuses belie one fact.  All that stands in the way of our Texas schoolchildren receiving the federal dollars we intend for them is the Governor’s signature on a three-page document. 

Governor Perry, on July 1, 2009, added his signature to a request for federal dollars attesting that, among other things:  “In FY 2011, the State will maintain State support for elementary and secondary education at least at the level of such support in FY 2006” (attached).  He did not raise his phony constitutional argument in signing last year’s similar application that covered a similar three year period of time.

You don’t need a room full of attorneys to scour the Texas Constitution or an 1892 court decision looking for excuses to deprive our local schools of these needed dollars. 

All the Governor need do is make an assurance to the full extent of his Executive power.  Under this provision, the State can choose whatever level of funding it wants for education.  It can cut education by any percentage in an across-the-board budget cut, but it cannot single out education for a greater cut than that applied to other public services in a way that penalizes our public schools for accepting federal aid. 

In June, a coalition of Texas school superintendents and Texas education organizations representing Texas teachers, principals, school boards, and school administrators asked Congress to prevent history from repeating itself and ensure that new federal funds for education actually increase support for Texas students (attached). 

Better than anyone else, they understand how the State prevented State Stabilization stimulus education funds from providing any additional help to our local schools last year, which is why they recognized the need for extra protection for new education funds sent to our State this year.

If not for our Texas Democratic amendment, our Texas schoolchildren would likely have had zero additional benefit from this $830 million in federal funding. It is not a matter of whether they get the money later, or in one formula or another, it is whether they get the federal funding at all—we don’t need a repeat of what happened previously to the larger $3.25 billion of federal aid.  

We didn’t send this federal aid for education to Texas to plug a state budget gap; we sent it to help our schoolchildren.

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