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Budget Deal Rider Gives Gov. Perry $830 Million Bailout

By Pat Garofalo  

"Budget Deal Rider Gives Gov. Perry $830 Million Bailout"

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H.R. 1, the bill that House Republicans passed that set funding levels for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, included a rider that would give Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) an $830 million bailout. Though the Senate defeated H.R. 1, Perry’s bailout seems to be back on, courtesy of the deal struck Friday night that averted a government shutdown:

The federal budget deal negotiated to avoid a government shutdown would remove the strings a Democratic congressman had attached to $830 million in stimulus funds for public education in Texas. If passed into law as expected later this week, the bill would remove a requirement that Republican Gov. Rick Perry use the funds to supplement existing school spending rather than just replace state funds in order to balance the budget.

For some background, the $10 billion education jobs bill passed last year included a provision requiring Texas to maintain its current education funding if it wanted to access its share of the money. This was an attempt to prevent Perry from spending federal dollars while simultaneously cutting the same amount from his state budget and putting it into Texas’ Rainy Day Fund, which was exactly what he did with education funding provided by the 2009 Recovery Act. In the end, Texas saw no net increase in education funding due to the Recovery Act.

For someone who has made demagoguing Washington spending a centerpiece of his political persona, Perry has gone to great lengths to secure this funding, even resorting to suing the Department of Education. “We’ll continue to work with state leaders, including the attorney general, to fight this injustice,” Perry has said.

If there is any silver lining here, it’s that Texas’ desperate budget situation makes it more likely that the money will actually make its way into the classroom. Texas is facing a $27 billion budget hole, and the state legislature has already agreed to tap the state’s Rainy Day Fund to make up cover some of the gap. “In today’s budget world, almost a billion dollars is a big help,” said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). “We’re going to put it into public education.”

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