Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t said, at least publicly, whether he will apply for the $830 million in emergency education jobs money that the federal government has set aside for Texas, but at least one local school board already has budgeted part of the money to grant teacher pay raises.
The Waco ISD board this week approved an average salary increase of 2.1 percent for teachers, librarians, counselors and other campus professionals. Other support staff also will get raises. The higher pay, expected to cost $1.65 million, is tied to the $5 million the district is expected to receive under the jobs bill, according to the Waco TribuneHerald.
Interim Superintendent Sheryl Davis noted that some people were concerned that the governor may reject the federal funds, but she added, “I feel pretty certain we will get that money.”
Instead of thanking the federal government – and particularly Texas’ Democratic members of Congress – for the help, Perry instead has been playing political games, criticizing Democrats for taking steps to ensure that Texas actually uses the money to boost education spending, not plug other, unrelated holes in the state budget.
All of Texas’ Republican members of Congress – except for one, who was absent voted against the bill.
The measure, meanwhile, had solid support from Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards of Waco, who is locked in a tough reelection fight with Republican challenger Bill Flores in District 17 in central Texas.
Waco educators and taxpayers should keep Edwards’ support of the bill in mind and ask Flores why he has been attacking Edwards for voting for the legislation, which is worth an estimated $22.5 million to all the public schools in District 17
It is a good thing that Edwards – and not Flores was in Washington when the critical, final vote on the measure was taken earlier this month.