The Money's Nice...the Strings...Not So Much
POSTED: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 10:22pm
UPDATED: Friday, August 20, 2010 - 9:10pm
The good news is, Texas is in line to get a whopping $830-million in education funding from Uncle Sam. The bad news is, they have to spend it on education and that has some state officials angry. And they are threatening to sue.
It all goes back to 2009 and the stimulus bill.
Texas got a portion of the stimulus to use for education. And it did,
"What the state of Texas did...they didn't use it for education,” says Democratic Congressman Gene Green of Houston. “They traded money, so to speak. They didn't put any new money in for education."
But the Governor used it to replace state money already in the education budget, and used the freed money for the state rainy day fund.
Democrats say, that wasn’t the purpose. They say it was meant to be added to the budget, not to make the budget the same.
So, this year, they have passed an amendment saying the federal emergency money is to supplement the state education budget, not to be spent elsewhere.
“If the state doesn’t provide the funding,” Green says, “then it goes to the local taxpayer and you end up with individual property tax increases.”
“The federal government is dictating to the states,” Republican Congressman Tom Price of Georgia responded, “so much so that for one state, for Texas, it says that you not only have to comply with what we tell every other state, you have to do it for another 2 year period of time.”
Texas is the only state with that restriction, and Republicans say that is unfair and more heavy-handed Washington control.
“Let’s get rid of a bunch of bureaucrats here, and in Austin, and in the school districts, hire lots more teachers, give them 50% more pay, then you will help the teachers,” said Congressman Louie Gohmert. “Not any more with this federal control thing here in Washington.”
“What happened, said Green, “was the Governor and the state legislature used it to plus up the rainy day fund. And again, I like saving money. I also like to make sure that we don’t have to lay off teachers.”
The amendment passed this afternoon, and now the ball is in the Governor’s court.
He says he can’t commit a future legislature to certain types of spending. Democrats say it is a one time bill to be used for a specific purpose. The whole thing may end up in a real court…and soon.