The Governor, Not the State Constitution, Stands in the Way of Federal Education Aid

Gov. Rick Perry is still claiming the federal education-jobs law sets conditions that make it impossible for Texas to receive $830 million earmarked for the state’s school districts. He says the state constitution bars him from making federally required assurances of ongoing state education spending. Perry and his appointee as head of the Texas Education Agency assert that the emergency-aid money may not be accessible until next summer, after the legislature writes the 2012-2013 budget.

But Texas school districts, Texas educator organizations, and the Texas member of Congress who shaped the law–U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Austin–take strong exception to the governor’s stance. It seems clear that the U.S. Department of Education is eager to deliver the dollars to Texas as quickly as possible. We believe that Gov. Perry could open the spigot and start the money flowing with just two simple steps: (1) resubmit the Texas application with the necessary assurances (verbatim this time, not altered, as in his September 3 request, to nullify their meaning); and (2) preface the request with a simple, unadorned statement that he does so subject to the limits of his executive power as governor.

Perhaps the governor believes this approach still won’t work. But why not give it a good-faith try and see what happens? Unless, perhaps, Gov. Perry would rather just have a fight than have the federal funding for Texas schools.