This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) prohibiting federal funds from being used to enforce a law requiring Texas to maintain funding for education at 2010 levels or above in order to receive $830 million in federal aid for education. This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
A 2010 law which provided economic aid (including funding for education) to all states imposed this requirement on Texas at the urging of a number of Texas House Democrats, including Rep. Lloyd Doggett and former Rep. Chet Edwards. Those members felt such a move was necessary after Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) had previously used federal funds specifically intended for education for other, non-education purposes—namely, a “rainy day” fund intended to close the state’s budget deficit. (Those federal education funds were provided to all states by a 2009 economic stimulus law enacted in response to a financial crisis.)
Rep. Francisco Canseco (R-TX) urged support for the amendment: “Last August, as part of a $26 billion bailout bill [the 2010 law which provided aid to states] for states, $10 billion was set aside to be distributed to the states for education. The state of Texas was set to receive $830 million as part of this education funding….Yet tucked into this legislation was an amendment that was deliberately and maliciously slipped into it that imposed a restriction on the state of the Texas, and only Texas…The restrictive amendment required that Texas guarantee that spending levels for elementary and secondary education not dip below 2010 levels for 3 years….Neither the governor nor the state government branches are able to make budget decisions that bind future legislatures….The amendment is about fairness, equal treatment for American taxpayers in one state, and malicious conduct in an arena involving Texas taxpayers and Texas schoolchildren where such legislative conduct is unconscionable.”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (R-TX) opposed the amendment: “When Texas received $3.25 billion in education stimulus funds [from the 2009 economic stimulus law]…Governor Perry played a shell game that left Texas schools not a dime better off than if no federal aid had come in the first place. That is the only reason that, last summer, all 12 Democratic Texas members…joined together, in offering our Save Our Schools amendment [which imposed the requirement that Texas maintain its education funding at 2010 levels for three years], which is today federal law. Tonight's proposal seeks to nullify that protection so that Governor Perry can reach out for another federal bailout even if it means taking $830 million away from Texas schoolchildren….Vote `no' on a very flawed amendment for a failed purpose.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 235-187. Voting “yea” were 235 Republicans. All 185 Democrats present and 2 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used to enforce a law requiring Texas to maintain funding for education at 2010 levels or above in order to receive $830 million in federal aid for education.