Education Week‘s EdWatch blog reports that the budget agreement between congressional Democrats and Republicans (signed April 15, 2011 by President Obama) to avoid a government shutdown includes a provision that would allow Texas to finally secure $830 million through the Education Jobs Fund. Texas’ portion of the money had previously been blocked during a standoff between federal and state officials.
The emergency jobs measure passed in 2010 provided $10 billion to prevent school districts around the country from having to make thousands of layoffs. But when the legislation became law, it included a provision from Texas’ congressional delegation, led by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat, meant to ensure that the money was used to supplement state spending on education—and not simply backfill amounts that the state had slashed from its budget earlier.
The congressman’s action angered Republican state lawmakers, and Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who said Texas’ constitution prevented him and legislators from making guarantees about future K-12 spending. Texas’ state attorney general later filed a legal action to try to secure the $830 million, a move backed by Perry.
But congressional budget agreement, which includes $38 billion in cuts and keeps the federal government funded through September 2011, reportedly removes the strings that prevent Texas from securing the Edujobs funding.
The Texas Education Agency reported on April 15, 2011, that the state had submitted its application for its allotted Education Jobs Act money.
[Editor's note: In September 2011, an Associated Press (AP) report in the Dallas Morning News said that ED had rejected Texas’ application for $830 million in federal education jobs money because the application stated that the funds could only be accepted on the condition that Texas’ constitution and laws supersede any assurances made by the governor in the application. In a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, ED officials said they could not award the money to Texas because of the “conditional assurances” included in its application. For a summary of the article, and links to prior Legal Clips coverage of the Texas Education Jobs Act money dispute, go to the link below.]