Playing games with $830 million

As you may have heard by now, the state of Texas’ application for $830 million in federal education jobs money has been rejected by the U.S. Department of Education because Gov. Perry tried to change the rules. Specifically, the application, submitted by Education Commissioner Robert Scott, didn’t provide the assurances required by federal law that the state will sustain its own funding commitment to the public schools over the next three years.

According to a story in Quorum Report, Texas still may have a chance at getting the money. If so, that probably would be next year, after the Legislature has had a chance to make the commitment that Perry claimed he didn’t have the authority to make.

By the time the next budget is written, this school year will be over, and the $830 million, if still available to Texas, would be distributed during the 20112012 school year. It would be a case of better late than never, provided state officials – who will be trying to fill an $18 billion canyon in the state budget don’t find a way to divert the money from education. That is what Congress, led by Texas Democrats, was trying to avoid.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, DAustin, who sponsored the amendment requiring the special assurances of state funding, said Perry deliberately had an altered application submitted to Washington, knowing that it would result in federal aid being delayed – or worse.

I think Doggett has Perry’s ploy pretty well figured out.

Educators – and other taxpayers as well – should keep Perry’s gamesmanship in mind when they cast their votes for governor this fall.

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