Contra Matt Miller, there actually are conditions attached to the state fiscal aid bill. They happen to be good conditions: no state can accept the education help and then cut their education budget, using the money essentially to backfill a reduced level of service. They must retain the current level of education funding, with this money used as a supplement for the fiscal year. Most states cut their education budgets along with everything else this fiscal year, so this ensures that the money goes where it should – directly to education, to save teacher jobs.

Rick Perry doesn’t much like that because he’d rather pull the same bait-and-switch that he did on the Recovery Act.

The reason for making the grant conditional was good, as Texas pocketed the education money that it received from the Recovery Act (i.e. the stimulus package), but then cut its education budget by the same amount and put the money into a Rainy Day Fund, so there was no additional money for schools. “We didn’t send that federal aid for education to Texas to plug a mismanaged state budget. We sent it to help our schoolchildren,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).

Perry, however, is not taking the conditions imposed very well:

“It is unfortunate that Washington continues to play partisan games with Texans’ tax dollars and the very future of our children. Texas will not surrender to Washington’s one-size-fits-all, deficit-spending mindset or let Washington do to the Texas budget what they have done to the federal budget. We’ll continue to work with state leaders, including the attorney general, to fight this injustice.”

So Perry is going to fight Washington’s “deficit-spending mindset” by advocating that Washington give money to the states with no regard for how it’s going to be used?

Perry’s desire for a slush fund would shortchange his own constituents and lead to needless teacher layoffs. Congress was right to ensure that wouldn’t happen. And if the Texas Governor doesn’t like it, he doesn’t have to take the money. But he will, because all these Republican Governors who talk tough and then get sideswiped by the reality of state budgets are rank hypocrites.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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