Houston Public Media News: Texas’ Congressional Democrats Seek To Block Governor’s Grab Of COVID-19 Education Funds

The Texas Democratic congressional delegation has asked the U.S. Education Department to block the governor from potentially diverting federal COVID-19 dollars away from public schools.

Gov. Greg Abbott has requested a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow him to spend the federal funds — formally known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER — as he sees fit, including for other areas of the budget.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, joined 12 of his Democratic colleagues in signing a letter asking Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to deny the waiver.

“My main concern is that we voted to give Texas schools about $19 billion, and they haven’t gotten a penny of it yet,” Doggett told Houston Public Media. “Gov. Abbott is obstructing the federal aid from getting to our schools at a time they desperately need it, and we’re trying to see that the aid actually flows to the schools and the school children who require this assistance.”

In response, Cardona has issued fresh guidance concerning how ESSER funds may be used.

Doggett said it was a promising move, particularly given that it reinforces the so-called “maintenance of effort” requirements in the COVID relief bills, which require that federal stimulus funds supplement rather than replace state education spending.

“I’m encouraged that it emphasizes the importance of maintenance of effort, and that it will look to see if the state has appropriated these funds for other uses in the past,” Doggett said. “That’s exactly what Gov. Abbott did when he was one of only two governors in the entire country to take all of the more than $1 billion we appropriated last year for the schools and kept it for the state budget.”

Read the full story here.

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News Credit

Author: Andrew Schneider

Publisher: Houston Public Media News

Date: April 19, 2021