Uphold Texas’ Prerogatives in Public Education

September 16, 2010

Austin American-Statesman

State Reps. Leo Berman; Wayne Christian; Rob Eissler; Dan Flynn; Kelly Hancock; Phil King; Tan Parker; and Ken Paxton

As state legislators, we are disappointed that Texas schools will miss out on $830 million in federal funding because of an overt political attempt to embarrass the Texas Legislature and the governor in the form of an amendment inserted into federal law by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. The Doggett amendment requires the State of Texas to maintain education funding at current levels for each of the next three budget years 2011, 2012 and 2013 to receive the federal dollars under the emergency school aid funding authorized by Congress last month.

The language added by Doggett required the governor to guarantee these levels of funding when he applied for the federal education aid. However, since the Legislature writes the state budget every two years, Gov. Rick Perry was unable to make that guarantee, noting that “surely Congress did not intend to require states to violate their own constitutions and statutes in order for schools to receive this money. I am sworn to uphold state laws and our constitution, which prohibit binding commitments about future budgets or funding levels.”

Texas’ state budget for 2012 and 2013 will be drafted and voted on by legislators when we convene in Austin in 2011. Perry clearly is unable to guarantee to the federal government that the 82nd Legislature will appropriate certain, specific levels of funding to public education in good faith because the governor does not write the state budget and, in any event, the 2012-13 state budget does not yet exist.