Texas officials had hoped that they would be able to secure $830 million in federal Edujobs funding, despite restrictions in the law that Gov. Rick Perry deems “anti-Texas.”
But now U.S. Department of Education has rejected the state’s application, saying it doesn’t meet the requirements of the law. And Texas officials are asking the feds to hold those hundreds of millions of dollars for them, if they apply again at a later date.
The controversy stems from wording in the Education Jobs Fund, a $26 billion pool of money approved by Congress over the summer, which specifically requires Texas to maintain school funding levels for at least three years to collect its share of the kitty. Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas, among others, supported the measure, saying that it was meant to ensure that the state did not use its money to simply fill holes created by earlier budget cuts. But Gov. Perry took umbrage, deriding the provision as the “anti-Texas Doggett Amendment.” And he contends that Texas cannot guarantee future education spending without the approval of state lawmakers.
The latest twist is that Department of Education official Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana told Texas officials in a Sept. 3 letter that the state’s application had been rejected because it contained “conditional assurances"—presumably, that the state would adhere to the federal spending requirements, if state lawmakers agreed to it.
Now Texas education commissioner Robert Scott has responded by asking the department to hold the state’s money until next year. Following the governor’s reasoning, Scott says that the soonest Texas could re-submit its application next summer, when lawmakers act on the state’s 2012-13 budget.
“Texas has placed great reliance upon the assurance by the department that the $830 million will be reserved for Texas teachers until July 2011,” Scott writes, “when Texas is able to legally make the assurances you are requiring.”
Should the feds put Texas’ money on hold?
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.