Texas Democrats have been reduced to tattling to the US Department of Education, as Governor Abbott continues to sit on $17.9 billion-with-a-b in aid that is supposed to be going to public schools.
That huge pile of money that has been allocated by Congress through various packages. Texas school districts are trying to get budgets written for next year. But the money is just sitting there.
Why? Abbott really hasn't explained himself much, but local coverage suggests a couple of issues.
One is a requirement that the state invest a billion dollars in higher education. That would also be the equivalent of the one billion from the first relief package that Texas spent on fixing budget "shortfalls" instead of using it to add to public education funding. Not clear whether state officials object to spending money on higher education, or if they just don't want to spend one billion to get $17.9 billion, which doesn't seem like a really tough math problem.
Abbott's only real comment on this is that the state needs "more guidance" on how the money is supposed to be spent. Which seems--well, 48 other governors have figured it out. Or is the Governor of Texas saying that he can't move without federal direction, which seems kind of un-Texasy.
There is also, apparently, a turf war in Texas about who should final say and control over where all of this money flows-- should it be legislators, or should they just hand the money over to local districts and let them use it as they see best. This seems like a no-brainer (does a legislator in the state capital really know how a local district can best use the funds), but legislators gotta legislate, I guess.
Meanwhile, even the CEO of a grocery chain has told the governor to fork over the damn money. We'll see if Abbott will budge, or if Texas schools will once again suffer at the hands of their elected leaders.