If I hadn’t already mentioned this before, this may come as a shock to some of you - but yesterday, the United States Senate actually voted to single out Texas to send a message that it better get in line.
You see, the Governor of Texas had the audacity to tell Washington, “no.” No to education funding that came with Washington strings and that would cost Texans more in the long run. No to unemployment insurance funding that would have come with similar strings and cost. And recently, along with other Texas state officials, no to federal government interference with traditional state authority to regulate oil and gas exploration.
Heaven forbid. Because, don’t you know, Washington is the fountain of all wisdom and virtue - and we must jump when Washington says “jump.” But when we don’t… oh, no… when we don’t, the powers that be along the Potomac decide to proceed like this:
1. Play politics with a War supplemental by including $10 billion in education funding in it;
2. Attach a requirement to that education spending that the Governor of Texas, because he has been out of line and not doing what he is told, must certify (unlike any other state) that the $800 million Texas could receive would not replace state funding, and thus would be additional funding;
3. When the education funding is stripped from the supplemental, proceed in a separate measure to pass it - leaving the same onerous, anti-Texas, arrogant, anti-federalism unprincipled power play.
No thank you. This should be just the beginning. States need to start telling Washington “no,” a lot louder and a lot more often.
The Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget. (see Jefferson quote below) We only have so much money to spend every two years when we pass our budget. We have to make the budget fit within our revenues. If state expenses exceed revenues we either cut spending, raise revenues, or do a combination of both. I serve on Finance and I can assure you the job will not be easy this year. But we will pass a balanced budget. We must under the law.
For Doggett or the Feds to insist that after fed money runs out we must keep funding at the same levels is irresponsible at best, and sinister at worse. Unless revenues increase dramatically in a few years, at some point Texas would hit a financial wall requirng massive cuts, higher taxes, or both. The very teachers Democrats claim they want to help could face massive lay offs in the future once the period of sustained spending ends that they demand.
Education is nearly half our budget. If the feds tell us that when their money runs out we must keep spending at the same funding levels, the the other half of the budget will see massive cuts unless revenues are up dramatically. We must have the ability in tough times to make tough decisions as we see best without our hands being tied by the federal government.
The Doggett amendment does not merely require the state to spend the same dollar amount that it currently spends on education. It requires the state to spend the same percentage of state general revenue on education than what it current spends. (Here is the exact text of the amendment from the Congressional Record -- section 11 is the Doggett amendment).
That's a big difference. In effect, complying with the Doggett amendment would require the state to increase dramatically the amount of state dollars sent to public school districts and increase state school finance formulas.
Will Lutz breaks down the entire situation very rationally... so if you want to learn about this issue go read what he wrote (link).
Washington is deft at placing targets on the backs of Texans, and this proposal paints a target on our school teachers and school children.
I applaud Sen. Hutchison and Sen. Cornyn for opposing this effort. If this measure were to pass into law, Washington would be taking yet another step toward usurping the state’s authority by determining how to fund our schools, and what’s worse, no other state is subject to this provision.
It is appalling to think other elected officials in Congress, especially Texas’ Democratic Congressional delegation, would forsake the interests of Texas school children for partisan politics. I urge the House to make sure this measure does not ultimately pass.