UNITED STATES SENATE
For Immediate Release Media Contact: Kevin McLaughlin
August 5, 2010 (202) 224-0704
Joint Statement By Sens. Cornyn And Hutchison On Passage of Funding Bill that Discriminates Against Texas
Provision House Democrats Slipped Into Legislation Could Deprive Texas Schools of $800 Million In Federal Education Funding
WASHINGTON – United States Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison released the following statement today regarding the FAA Reauthorization Act:
“Texas school children deserve better than this. The Doggett amendment, which was supported by every member of the Texas Democratic delegation, will treat Texas differently than every other state in the union and deprive our schools of $830 million in federal education funding. Texas Democrats in the House of Representatives must take corrective action on this next week. If they don’t, they are authorizing an unelected bureaucrat in the Obama administration to spend Texas tax dollars on schools in other states like California and New York. Texas children shouldn’t have their education shortchanged because of petty partisan politics and we hope our Democratic colleagues share that sentiment,” said Cornyn.
“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives would pass an amendment that discriminates against a single state, Texas, and could undermine the education of our students. I voted against this penalizing language in the Senate, and I urge the House to correct the provision that unfairly targets Texas schools and students,” said Hutchison.
Just before the July recess, the House attached $10 billion for an “Education Jobs Fund” to the defense supplemental. The provision was stripped from the supplemental, but was included in a Reid-Murray motion, which passed the Senate on August 5.
During the House debate over the defense supplemental, Rep. Lloyd Doggett added language to limit Texas’s ability to access the $10 billion in education funds.
The Doggett amendment requires the Texas Governor to certify that the state will maintain the FY11 proportion of education funding in the state budget for two subsequent fiscal years. No other state is required to make this certification for the three years total.
Furthermore, the Texas Legislation Budget Board has noted that since only the Texas Legislature can make appropriations, one legislature cannot bind a future legislature. Thus, the requirement that the Governor assure that a future legislature commit to spend funds in accordance with the amendment would violate the Texas Constitution even if the Governor had such authority.
If the bill is enacted, Texas might not be eligible to receive any of the funds because the Governor does not have the authority to commit the Texas legislature to any specific appropriation amount. Estimates of the Texas share of the $10 billion range from $800 million to over $830 million.
The Doggett provision essentially creates an additional $830 million slush fund for the Secretary of Education.
Text of Doggett Amendment
(11) ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE STATE OF TEXAS.—The following requirements shall apply to the State of Texas:
(A) Notwithstanding paragraph (3)(B), funds used to support elementary and secondary education shall be distributed based on local educational agencies’ relative shares of funds under part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6311 et seq.) for the most recent fiscal year which data are available. Funds distributed pursuant to this paragraph shall be used to supplement and not supplant State formula funding that is distributed on a similar basis to part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6311et seq.).
(B) The Secretary shall not allocate funds to the State of Texas under paragraph (1) unless the Governor of the State provides an assurance to the Secretary that the State will for fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013 maintain State support for elementary and secondary education at a percentage of the total revenues available to the State that is equal to or greater than the percentage provided for such purpose for fiscal year 2011 prior to the enactment of this Act.
(C) Notwithstanding paragraph (8), no distribution shall be made to the State of Texas or local education agencies therein unless the Governor of Texas makes an assurance to the Secretary that the requirements in paragraphs (11)(A) and (11)(B) will be met, notwithstanding the lack of an application from the Governor of Texas.
Legislative Budget Board comments
“…the amendment was drafted in such way that Texas would not be eligible to receive any of the funds because the Governor does not have the authority to commit the Texas legislature to any specific appropriation amount. The amendment has a second problem. One legislature cannot bind a future legislature. Thus, the requirement that the Governor assure that a future legislature commit to spend funds in accordance with the amendment would violate the Texas Constitution even if the Governor had such authority.
If those problems were addressed, the funds would have to be distribute through the Title I formula instead of state funding formulas. This would result in 852 school districts receiving considerable less funding. We estimated what Texas’ share of the $10B would be and performed runs to determine how specific districts were impacted. We have attached this information in an effort to answer your questions. This information is also sorted by congressional district for your convenience.”
Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Agriculture and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.