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Burgess Maneuver Could Lift Freeze On TX Money

Michael Burgess
Michael Burgess

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Supporters say a weekend vote by the U.S. House could be the beginning of Texas receiving $831 million school dollars now on hold, though one key House democrat disagrees. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports on the early morning vote and what happens next.

Around 5:00 am Saturday morning bleary-eyed members of the U.S. House continued to wrangle over a bill that cuts federal spending by $60 billion.

That's when an amendment sponsored by Republican Representative Michael Burgess of Flower Mound came to the floor.

Burgess' amendment prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from spending money to enforce a measure Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin attached to the education jobs bill last year. In it Doggett singled-out Texas with specific requirements for receiving $831 million for teacher salaries. Doggett wants Governor Rick Perry to promise the money will go only for education and that Texas will not cut certain education spending for the next three years.

Perry has said making that promise would violate the Texas constitution. Burgess says Texas deserves its share of money.

Burgess: I voted against the education jobs bill. I voted against every stimulus bill that's come down the pike because I don't believe that's the correct way to deal with things. But I cannot have emotional peace when Texas taxpayers have to foot the bill for the stimulus bill that is going to help every other state save the Lone Star state. That is just not right.

Doggett says he placed the restrictions on Texas receiving the money after Governor Perry used $3.2 billion federal education dollars to bailout the state budget. Doggett stood behind the restrictions Saturday as the Burgess amendment came up for a vote.

Doggett: Governor Perry may have come up here on a book tour for his book, "Fed Up!" But he is not afraid to ask for second and third helpings of federal aid even though it takes it away from our school children.

With the blessing of Republican House Speaker Boehner and backing from most in his party, the Burgess amendment easily passed 235-187, though Doggett claims it does nothing.

Doggett: Defectively written this amendment fails to repeal anything. The enforcement funds it would limit are not in this bill. They are already appropriated.

Nevertheless, Burgess says republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has pledged to defend Texas' right to the money when the spending bill is debated in the Senate.

Without his amendment Burgess says Texas will have until September 30, the end of the fiscal year, to meet requirements for claiming the money.

Email Shelley Kofler

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