Dems urge Perry's cooperation; he tells them to repeal Doggett amendment.
FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
Friday, Feb. 11, 2011
Gov. Rick Perry is asking Congress to repeal a federal provision that has stirred up a political hornet's nest and tied up about $830 million intended to help struggling Texas schools.
In a letter to Texas Democrats on Friday, Perry reiterated his position that state law forbids him from making the assurances about spending that the federal law requires.
Perry, who was in Washington to speak to several groups Friday, urged the delegation to repeal the amendment, which he said "unfairly targets Texas schoolchildren, teachers and taxpayers."
State Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, added the amendment to last year's $10 billion education jobs bill that required Texas to certify that the state's public education spending would hold steady as a proportion of the state budget for three years. Other states had to make that assurance for one year.
The U.S. Department of Education kicked back Texas' application for the money and asked Perry to resubmit it.
He refused, saying that it would violate the state constitution because a governor cannot appropriate money nor obligate a future Legislature to a certain level of spending.
Texas officials then sued the federal government seeking to overturn the federal decision.
Perry cited Doggett and the amendment in his State of the State speech this week, saying the current tight budget was "made worse by a certain Texas congressman who singled out our state for punishment in pursuit of his own agenda."
Doggett and the other eight Democratic members of the Texas congressional delegation have since responded twice; in a letter to Perry on Thursday, they urged Perry to cooperate in getting the money released, saying, "there does not appear to be any policy reason for your failing to complete a proper application for federal funding."
The letter concluded: "Please take the opportunity of your visit to Washington to file the application or to work with us to constructively help our schools to avoid closures and layoffs."