Gov. Rick Perry, whose political gameplaying delayed and could have killed the $830 million in “emergency” federal funds for education jobs in Texas, now is trying to claim credit for the money finally getting here.
That, at least, was Paul Burka’s take in an item he posted late last night on his Texas Monthly blog, and he may be right. According to Paul, legislative budget writers intended to use the extra funding to help close the shortfall in funding public schools. But Perry and the Texas Education Agency got the jump when TEA quickly had the money distributed directly to school districts, based on school finance formulas.
I don’t think Perry fooled any school superintendents or school board members. Only those with their heads in the sand – or deeply intoxicated by Republican politics – would give the governor any credit for easing a budgetary mess that Perry helped create.
The $830 million obviously is welcome, and it may save a significant number of educator jobs. But without the Doggett amendment, which would have guarded against a comparable reduction in state education funding, there is no guarantee that the Legislature’s budget conferees may not try to cut back even further on education funding in the final state appropriations bill.
The public education budget already is $8 billion short on the House side and $4 billion short in the Senate version. It would be outrageous to subtract another $830 million, but that possibility – particularly coming from the House side can’t be ruled out yet, considering the antieducation, antigovernment fever that pervades this Legislature.