Mitt Romney dismissed criticisms that he does not want to hire more teachers, firefighters, and police officers as “absurd” on Tuesday morning, telling Fox News Channel that if elected president, he would not have the ability to control the hiring decisions of local governments:
ROMNEY: Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that’s completely absurd.
But Romney’s comment demonstrates a disturbing lack of understanding of both federal funding and his own published plans. While it is true that teachers, firefighters, and police are hired at the local level, a significant portion of their funding, recruiting, and training comes from the federal government.
Here are just some of the ways the federal government funds:
- Improving Teacher Quality State Grants: about $2.5 billion given in 2012 to increasing the number of highly qualified teachers and administrators in schools
- Transition to Teaching: about $26 million in 2012 to recruit and retain highly qualified midcareer professionals for high-need schools
- TEACH Grants: an estimated $118 million in 2012 to fund college students who agree to become highly-qualified teachers in schools serving students from low-income families for at least four years
- Stafford Loan Forgiveness for Teachers: an estimated $130 million in 2012 to forgive federal student loan debt for those who agree to become highly-qualified teachers in schools serving students from low-income families for at least four years
- Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program: grants for fire departments to enhance their abilities with respect to fire and fire-related hazards
- Reimbursement for Firefighting on Federal Property: payments to local fire departments to reimburse their costs for fighting fires on federal property
- Community Policing Development: funds to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance
- COPS Hiring Program: funds to hire an estimated 500-plus police officers in 2012, by paying up to 75 percent of the new recruits’ salaries for three years
- Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation: funds to hire and train police officers for federally recognized Tribal jurisdictions