More on the $830 million in Federal Funding

As mentioned yesterday, the recent federal budget compromise contained a provision that repealed the Doggett amendment related to the $830 million set-aside for Texas for the Education Jobs bill.

While the Governor’s Office, TEA, the Legislature, and the federal government need to come to a resolution on several issues before the distribution of these funds, one proposal that may receive some traction in the remaining days of the legislative session is to flow the $830 million to school districts this current fiscal year (as required by law). Unfortunately, this funding would not be in addition to the funding school districts received for the current school year, but it would supplant existing state revenue.  By using this approach, the legislature would free-up $830 million to assist in balancing the 2012-13 state budget.  

Attached is a printout that details the potential amount of funding for school districts (alphabetical) based on either federal Title I formulas or state school finance formulas.  As noted above, however, the allocation amount in the spreadhseet should not be considered additional funding since it will most likely offset current state revenue.  

We will continue to monitor all discussions related to this issue.   

Kate Alexander from the Austin American Statesman wrote the following aticle related to this matter:

About $830 million in federal education aid could soon be coming to Texas after budget negotiators in Washington agreed to strip out a provision that had held up the money for the Lone Star State.

Details of last week's federal spending deal are only now dribbling out after the broad agreement was struck late Friday to avert a shutdown of the federal government.

On Tuesday, word surfaced that one piece of that agreement could specifically benefit Texas school districts, which could be getting an $830 million infusion of federal money meant to save teacher jobs just as they're having to lay off thousands.

House Republicans were able to secure the repeal of a Texas-specific amendment to last year's $10 billion education jobs bill that had left the state's share of that money in legal limbo. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, had written the amendment.

"It was just wrong for Texas to be singled out and treated differently," said U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound.

Doggett's amendment was aimed at forcing Texas to hold steady on state education spending over the next two years as it grappled with a gaping shortfall.

For Texas budget writers, the $830 million could not have come at a better time.

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said the senators have been struggling to find new nontax dollars to help them pay for $5.3 billion in school aid that they recently added to their initial bare-bones version of the 2012-13 budget.

This change frees up $830 million for the 2012-13 budget that will go toward — but not add to — the $5.3 billion, Shapiro said. She said that will save teacher jobs, just as last year's legislation intended.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said it is a welcome infusion of money.

"I think it's going to be a big help. In today's budget world, almost a billion dollars for public education is a big number," Dewhurst said.

It does not make the schools whole, however. The Senate budget still leaves school districts $4 billion short of what they are owed under current law; the Texas House has approved a reduction almost twice that size.

Doggett said in a statement Tuesday that he was trying to ensure that Texas school districts received the federal dollars intended for them.

"If this federal money is added to the funding for our schools contained in the state Senate Finance bill, our purpose can still be achieved," Doggett said.

"If it simply replaces proposed state funding, then the concern of state educators, who sought our amendment, will be justified."

Since last summer, the money has been a source of partisan sniping between Doggett and Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry made the repeal of the Doggett amendment a frequent talking point while campaigning for re-election in the fall and, one state official said, in private conversations with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

It didn't hurt that Perry, as the head of the Republican Governors Association, could help the new leadership in the U.S. House forge a good relationship with the states.

In February, Burgess got an amendment added to a House spending measure that targeted, though it did not repeal, the Doggett amendment.

The heavy Republican majority in the U.S. House produced a lopsided vote in Burgess' favor.

"That clearly made the case to the speaker's office that this was something the bulk of the conference supported," Burgess said.

The federal spending bill, which will keep the government running through the 2011 fiscal year, should be completed by Thursday.

At that point, Texas will submit its application, and if all goes smoothly, the money could flow shortly thereafter, Shapiro said.


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Author : Bob Popinski ~ 4/13/2011 4:11 PM
Related Categories: MCA Updates