AUSTIN — The state's two Republican U.S. senators launched a long-shot effort Monday to repeal a Democratic-backed federal provision that they said has kept the state from getting $830 million in urgently needed education assistance.
The money is part of a $10 billion job package approved by Congress in August. Under a Texas-only provision by Rep Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, the state must commit to keep education funds at the same level for three years to receive the aid.
Last week, the Education Department refused Gov. Rick Perry's application for a waiver from the Doggett amendment to start the money flowing to Texas. Perry contends that complying with the Doggett amendment would cause him to violate a provision in the Texas Constitution that prevents the governor from binding lawmakers to future levels of funding.
Denouncing it as a partisan roadblock that discriminates against Texas, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn introduced their bill to strip the Doggett amendment from the jobs package as Congress returned from its summer recess. Perry backed the effort, but the Texas senators face stiff odds in getting the Democratic-dominated Congress to go along with their proposal before lawmakers adjourn in about four weeks.
"Texas taxpayer dollars belong in Texas schools - not in California or New York, as the Doggett amendment would have it," Cornyn said.
Each party has accused the other of playing politics with Texas' schoolchildren through their positions over the funding issue. Five Democrats in the state Senate, including Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, sent a toughly worded letter to Perry on Monday urging him to take immediate steps to break the impasse over the money.
"Surely, you and other adults in our state and federal government can work towards a meaningful compromise with the U.S. Department of Education to keep our school doors open, our teachers teaching and our kids learning," the senators said. "Grown-ups don't give up and point fingers; grown-ups find solutions. We're Texas, right?"
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