School & District Management

U.S. House Dems Add Caveat to Texas Schools Funds

By The Associated Press — July 06, 2010 3 min read

A special provision tacked on to a supplemental budget bill this week in the U.S. House cuts Texas education officials out of the decision-making process that will determine how more than $800 million in federal aid to schools will be spent in the state.

The Texas caveat also requires Gov. Rick Perry to make assurances to Washington that state funding for education will not fall below a certain level through the 2013 fiscal year. Perry’s office says that requirement is unconstitutional and will effectively deny Texas schools the money.

“At the urging of Texas Democrats, the U.S. House has added language to the war supplemental bill that effectively kills about $800 million in federal funding for Texas schools,” said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger. “The House-passed version requires that the governor guarantee the Legislature will provide a certain level of state funding, which is prohibited by the Texas Constitution.

“Texas would not be able to use any of these funds to save teacher jobs — as Congress has intended the money be used — for at least one full school year.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the Austin Democrat who drafted the amendment with the special Texas provision, disagrees with Perry’s assertion that the measure is unconstitutional.

“The governor has veto power, if he can certify in his application that the state will not hold this federal money against the school districts, the state of Texas gets the money,” Doggett said.

Led by Doggett, Democrats in Congress said they gave special treatment to Texas because of the way the state handled federal stimulus dollars last year. The provisions only apply to Texas.

The measure has not yet been approved in the Senate.

Doggett says state lawmakers used $3.2 billion in federal stimulus money last year to save state money, allowing them to end last year’s legislative session with billions in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

By supplanting $3.2 billion in state education dollars, Doggett said, state lawmakers perpetrated “a massive abuse of what was intended.”

Bypassing the state in this round of federal aid is a safety net of sorts, to ensure state officials don’t divert education dollars to other parts of the budget, Doggett said.

“We just sought to go a little extra because of this history of Texas diverting $3.2 billion, to try to do the best that we could to see that this money actually goes to what it’s appropriated,” Doggett said.

But state officials say Texas used the money just like every other state, and Washington is punishing Texas for refusing to participate in some key Obama Administration education initiatives.

“I think they’ve certainly painted a target on Texas for our refusal to turn over our schools to the federal government,” said Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott.

Scott, who has been a vocal opponent of Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative, said an initial review by the Texas Education Agency has found most Texas school districts would have received more money under the state funding formulas than under the federal formulas.

With a projected $18 billion budget shortfall in Texas and similar budget holes in other states, the federal money is intended to help schools across the nation avoid layoffs.

“School districts, because of the budget situation, are considering laying off teachers and making class sizes significantly larger if we’ll let them,” said state Rep. Scott Hochberg, a Houston Democrat. “If the congressmen want to send additional money for education in the state to make sure that doesn’t happen ... then being as clear as possible about the use of that money is not a bad idea.”

Hochberg said he doesn’t blame congressional Democrats for being upset about the way Texas used last year’s stimulus money.

Doggett said he expects the Senate will take up the supplemental budget by mid-July.

“Washington is deft at placing targets on the backs of Texans, and this time the Democrats painted a target on our schoolteachers,” said Cesinger, the governor’s spokeswoman. “It’s appalling to think these elected officials in Congress would forsake the interests of our schoolchildren for partisan politics. The governor urges the Senate to ensure this measure does not ultimately pass.

Related Tags:

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Strategies & Tips for Complex Decision-Making
Schools are working through the most disruptive period in the history of modern education, facing a pandemic, economic problems, social justice issues, and rapid technological change all at once. But even after the pandemic ends,
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Education Funding Webinar
From Crisis to Opportunity: How Districts Rebuild to Improve Student Well-Being
K-12 leaders discuss the impact of federal funding, prioritizing holistic student support, and how technology can help.
Content provided by Salesforce.org

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Video Education Week Leadership Symposium: Resource Center
Resource Center for K-12 education’s premier leadership event.
1 min read
School & District Management Cash for Shots? Districts Take New Tacks to Boost Teacher Vaccinations
In order to get more school staff vaccinated, some district leaders are tempting them with raffles, jeans passes, and cash.
8 min read
Illustration of syringe tied to stick
Getty
School & District Management National Teachers' Union President: Schools Must Reopen 5 Days a Week This Fall
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wants five days a week of in-person school next fall.
4 min read
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Mark Lennihan/AP
School & District Management Principals and Stress: Strategies for Coping in Difficult Times
Running schools in the pandemic has strained leaders in unprecedented ways. Principals share their ideas for how to manage the stress.
6 min read
Illustration of calm woman working at desk
Getty