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Edumoney Shell Games Again?

By Alyson Klein — September 01, 2010 1 min read
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Fresh off his state’s Race to the Top win, Rhode Island Gov. Donald L. Carcieri has plans to use his state’s share of the $10 billion in education jobs funding to help plug budget holes in other areas, not to save education jobs, according to this Providence Journal story.

Does this sound familiar? It should ... states diverted much of the education funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to other purposes.

In Rhode Island, the state’s chief, Deborah A. Gist, is none too happy with the plan, telling the Journal that she, for one, argued that the money should be used “for its intended purpose,” which is to prevent teacher layoffs.

So is this allowable? Well, technically, it would appear to be. The education jobs legislation says the money must be used for teachers’ salaries and benefits. And it is explicit that states can’t use these dollars to replenish their rainy day funds. But it doesn’t say that states can’t use the federal funds to supplant state dollars, although the U.S. Department of Education officials told the ProJo that the department would review applications for the new funds carefully.

And Rhode Island isn’t the only one considering holding back at least part of the funding at the state level. Policymakers in Utah were contemplating holding back $50 million of the $100 million they are slated to get under the legislation. (Some lawmakers in the Beehive State were actually thinking of completely turning down the funds.)

Anywhere else this is happening?