u.S. House: Cash is for ed­u­ca­tion, ed­u­ca­tion alone

Demo­crat-led move is lat­est in fed­eral, state dis­agree­ments

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Tim ea­ton

In yet an­other skir­mish in the Texas ver­sus Washington de­bates, Democrats have pushed leg­is­la­tion through the U.S. House re­quir­ing Texas to spend fed­eral ed­u­ca­tion dol­lars on ed­u­ca­tion.

The pro­vi­sion, writ­ten by Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, sin­gles out Texas and was placed into a sup­ple­men­tal ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill that pays for ed­u­ca­tion, war ef­forts, border se­cu­rity, Pell Grants and other pro­grams. The House passed the bill late Thurs­day.

Doggett and the 11 other Texas Democrats in the House have been push­ing the pro­vi­sion they say will help keep teach­ers in the class­rooms. The Democrats said in a state­ment that they added lan­guage into the ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill to pre­vent the “state-di­ver­sion of $820 mil­lion in emer­gency ed­u­ca­tion jobs funds else­where for none­d­u­ca­tional use.”

Doggett said he wrote the pro­vi­sion to pre­vent his­tory from re­peat­ing it­self.

Last year, a piece of leg­is­la­tion di­rected $3.2 bil­lion in eco­nomic stim­u­lus money for Texas schools. But con­gres­sional Democrats com­plained at the time that the state mis­used its stim­u­lus money by fill­ing its bud­get holes

Con­tin­ued from B1 with the fed­eral dol­lars.

“So the schools didn’t come out any bet­ter,” Doggett said.

The ef­fort by the Democrats this week “ef­fec­tively kills about $800 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing for Texas schools,” said Kather­ine Cesinger, a spokes­woman for Gov. Rick Perry.

Cesinger said Perry op­poses Doggett’s mea­sure be­cause it would de­mand the gover­nor to guar­an­tee that the Leg­is­la­ture will pro­vide a level of state fund­ing, which she says he can­not do by law.

She added that the pro­vi­sion writ­ten by Doggett also would not al­low Texas to use any of any of the money for at least one full school year be­cause “it will be at least June 1, 2011, be­fore the Leg­is­la­ture passes and the comptroller cer­ti­fies the 2012-13 bud­get.”

Sen­a­tors still have to take up the mea­sure when they re­turn to Washington in two weeks, and Perry is urg­ing them to re­ject the Doggett pro­posal.

Doggett said he be­lieves Repub­li­can Sens. Kay Bai­ley Hutchi­son and John Cornyn of Texas won’t sup­port his lan­guage.

“I don’t ex­pect them to be sym­pa­thetic to this,” he said.

But even if the Se­nate passes the Doggett-drafted lan­guage, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama still would have to sign it into law — and that’s not a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

Doggett said a veto is­sue has been raised be­cause Obama might not want money — about $500 mil­lion — to be di­verted from one of his pet projects, Race to the Top, an ed­u­ca­tion grant pro­gram that seeks to re­ward in­no­va­tion.

Be­fore the Texas and Washington politi­cians be­gan Fri­day’s pub­lic dis­agree­ment, 33 school su­per­in­ten­dents — in­clud­ing those from the Austin, Hays County and San Mar­cos dis­tricts — signed a let­ter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and oth­ers sup­port­ing Doggett’s lan­guage.

The let­ter said: “As the Ad­min­is­tra­tion con­sid­ers ad­di­tional emer­gency ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing to save teach­ers’ jobs, we urge you to pre­vent his­tory from re­peat­ing it­self and en­sure that any funds Texas re­ceives go to help Texas schools, teach­ers, and stu­dents.”

In re­cent weeks, Texas and fed­eral of­fi­cials also have been at odds over fed­eral health care re­form leg­is­la­tion, air qual­ity rules and food stamp pro­cess­ing.

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