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Perry’s Latest Temper Tantrum

Lawsuit over education money is nothing but a political stunt.
by Published on

It’s supplement, Mr. Perry. Not supplant.

I know, I know. The words are remarkably similar; yet their meanings are totally opposite. Supplanting education funding is what Gov. Perry did with $3.2 billion in stimulus funds last year. Supplementing is what Gov. Perry now refuses to promise to do in order to gain access to $830 million in stimulus funds for education.

In an amendment to the Education Jobs bill (and in an effort to keep Perry from once again confusing the two “S” words), Congress gave Texas special requirements in order to receive additional funds:

“…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…”

Politicians can be such children. Really. They might as well be six-year-olds in big-people suits (I can say this with authority because I regularly spend time with a six-year-old). Like any 6-year-old does when faced with something they don’t want to do, Perry has thrown a middle-of-the-grocery-store temper tantrum.

The scene for his outburst: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Legs and arms in air, Gov. Perry and other Texas officials filed suit last Thursday against the Department of Education for denying Texas’ (altered) application for $830 million in stimulus funds.

The governor’s press release announcing the suit was titled: “Legal Action Against U.S. Department of Education Necessary to Preserve Texas Education Funding.” Necessary to preserve funding? Really?

The title (and motive behind it) is really a bunch of baloney when you read that even TEA Commissioner Robert Scott, in his application for Texas conceded: “In the event Texas’ application is denied, the Department assured me and the Office of the Governor, both in our meeting in Washington, D.C., and in a follow-up conference call, that the Department has all necessary authority to and will … reserve the $830 million for Texas until the 2012-13 budget becomes law and Texas is awarded the $830 million.”

In addition, in a Sept. 14 letter, the Department of Education even wrote to Scott: “…we cannot award Ed Jobs funds to Texas at this time. However, we remain committed to making these funds available to the schools and students in your State.”

These statements of assurance makes this expensive and taxpayer funded lawsuit look ridiculous. Perry and his allies are painting a picture for voters suggesting this lawsuit is necessary to keep the feds from re-allocating the $830 million to other states, when in reality they (and now you) know that the Department of Education has no such plans.

Meanwhile, Perry’s sittin’ pretty. If he had conceded to the feds and met the conditions of Doggett’s amendment, he would have been chastised by the right. If he had outright refused the funds, he would have been chastised by everyone else.

It’s all just so theatrical. And this political show is expensive – at a time when Texas taxpayers can’t afford to throw money at a frivolous lawsuit. If, as his press release says, he’s really “exploring every possible avenue” to get the funding, maybe he should try putting pen to paper and signing the damn application.