Innovator Series, Video B

Humberto Sanchez
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Humberto Sanchez
Dec. 28, 2013, 1:43 a.m.

House Demo­crats rep­res­ent­ing Texas de­cided Thursday against try­ing to change a law en­acted in Au­gust re­quir­ing the state to keep spe­cif­ic edu­ca­tion fund­ing levels in or­der to re­ceive $830 mil­lion from a fed­er­al fund to help loc­al school dis­tricts pre­vent teach­er lay­offs.

Earli­er Thursday, Texas of­fi­cials sued the Edu­ca­tion De­part­ment, which had re­jec­ted their ap­plic­a­tion for the money. The suit claims that the fund­ing pro­vi­sion is un­con­sti­tu­tion­al be­cause the Edu­ca­tion De­part­ment “mis­in­ter­preted the … amend­ment or the amend­ment it­self places un­con­sti­tu­tion­al con­di­tions on Texas,” the state said in a re­lease.

But Rep. Lloyd Dog­gett, D-Texas, said he be­lieves the ar­gu­ment “over the Con­sti­tu­tion is totally phony.”

Dog­gett and all Demo­crats of the state del­eg­a­tion met in the of­fice of House Ap­pro­pri­ations Chair­man Dav­id Obey to de­cide if fur­ther le­gis­lat­ive ac­tion would be needed.

“We dis­cussed wheth­er we should do any­thing to try to re­move that ar­gu­ment and con­cluded that we are go­ing to stand by the school chil­dren and keep it just like it is,” Dog­gett said upon leav­ing the meet­ing.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said the state’s move to sue the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment amoun­ted to noth­ing more than polit­ic­al “grand­stand­ing” by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Re­pub­lic­an run­ning for re-elec­tion.

Demo­crats, led by Dog­gett, had pushed for the pro­vi­sion in the $26 bil­lion bill that in­creased Medi­caid fund­ing for states be­cause they con­tend that state Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers last year re­dir­ec­ted $3.25 bil­lion in fed­er­al stim­u­lus funds in­ten­ded for loc­al school dis­tricts.

“In ‘09 the money did not get to the loc­al school dis­tricts,” said Green. “My school dis­tricts are hav­ing to do tax ref­er­en­dums to get money and in this eco­nomy you can’t pass them, so that money needs to go dir­ectly to the school dis­tricts.”

Perry, in a re­lease, called Dog­gett’s pro­vi­sion “anti-Texas.”

“Texas tax­pay­ers are foot­ing the bill for the edu­ca­tion jobs fund, and Texas’ hard­work­ing teach­ers de­serve their share of that money,” Perry said. “Had the con­gres­sion­al ma­jor­ity chosen to work for Texas school­chil­dren and teach­ers, in­stead of play­ing par­tis­an polit­ics, this money could already be on its way to our school dis­tricts.”

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