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Federal bill puts state in odd spot

A move by Congress to put specific restrictions on the state of Texas’ budget process for the coming budget cycle borders on unconstitutional, our governor says.
The Austin Democrat who drafted the amendment barring the state from slashing education funding if it hopes to receive about $800 million in federal funding for Texas schools says the measure is designed to keep Texas’ powers that be from holding the federal funding “against the state” by cutting back on state appropriations.

The net effect is Texas is dealing with a much more politically complicated budget process for the coming year’s budget. The provision put in place in the federal supplemental appropriations bill is specific to Texas — motivated, Democrats in Congress say, by the way Texas dealt with state funding for education in the wake of receiving federal aid for education last year.

What we see is politics playing out to the detriment of our state. Our incumbent governor has an election to win, Democrats believe, and this is a gauntlet thrown down in the fight to elect Bill White as the next governor of Texas. The education community certainly has a reason to want the state to spare it from deep cuts to balance its budget, and adding another $800 million in federal cash dependent on preserving the state’s appropriations just adds fuel to the fire.

Realistically, however, Texas probably can’t skirt by without making some deep changes everywhere in its budget. Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, was clear that as much as $18 billion in shortfalls faces state leaders as they prepare for this budget cycle. State agencies are already handling significant budget reduction requests from Austin, and it’s not going to make their lives any easier to know education is being eyed for preservation.

We’re not sure how the state will manage without cuts in education.

The state budget must not get out of hand, that’s a no-brainer, but we appreciate the motivation to protect our educational future by preserving funding and cutting waste — we worry the move will do more harm than good, however.

We’ll be interested to see how the state reacts to this latest development in its budget saga. Local officials have quite a bit at stake in an education funding debate, as so many of us are employed by or through the Ennis Independent School District. We’re all affected in some way since we’re talking about our children. Adding political fuel to the fire is likely as dangerous as it is helpful.

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Posted by on Jul 6 2010. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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