Gov. Rick Perry is still trying to win reelection by kicking Washington. That’s a lot easier, of course, than running on his record.
But he also is kicking Texas educators and school kids with his opposition to the emergency education jobs funding bill that is set for a vote in the U.S. House on Tuesday. The measure includes $830 million in extra federal funds for Texas’ public schools. The governor should be turning handstands. Instead, he is playing politics.
Perry objects to a provision in the bill, inserted by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and other Democrats, that would force Texas to actually spend the money on its intended purpose – education instead of using it to patch other holes in the state budget.
Doggett doesn’t trust the governor and the Republican legislative leadership – and with good reason. They diverted billions of federal stimulus dollars to other purposes last year to help balance the current budget, and that temptation may be even greater in the face of Texas’ anticipated $18 billion revenue shortfall for 2011.
This latest round of federal funding is intended to save educators’ jobs, and that’s what it should be spent to do. Perry should be welcoming the money instead of trying to throw up roadblocks.
It’s interesting that the governor and his fellow Republicans started publicly complaining about the education funding restrictions about the same time the federal government announced its latest school accountability ratings. According to the Texas Education Agency, about onefifth of the state’s school districts failed the federal threshold of making adequate annual progress on specified goals.
That’s a worse showing than the state accountability ratings announced a week ago, but the fed standards are tougher than Texas’ rating system.
The governor obviously doesn’t like trying to explain the federal accountability showing. It’s easier to kick Washington (and school kids) instead.