THE BIG CONVERSATION:
And so it continues, with the feds squaring off against the state yet again.
This time, the U.S. Department of Education has denied Texas' application for $830 million in federal education aid, according to a letter to the state released Thursday.
Before fingers are pointed at a cutthroat federal government, though, some background:
The $830 million comes from $10 billion Congress approved last month to save education jobs across the nation. To ensure that Texas spent the money on education and not on plugging budget holes, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, included a provision requiring Texas to maintain current levels of education spending for the next three years. At this, Rick Perry balked, saying the Texas Constitution prohibits him from committing to such future expenditures.
In his application for the funds, then, the governor included language noting that despite any assurances he might make, he'd first be responsible for abiding by the state constitution. He also asked the Department of Education to set aside the funds so that the state could apply next year, after the budget is written.
But the agency didn't budge. Granting the funds "would not be consistent with the statutory requirements," it said in the letter sent to the state.
Perry's office said Thursday that it might still be possible to secure the funds, noting that — surprise surprise — a legal battle could be on the horizon. "Texas continues to explore our options, including legal options, to secure these funds for Texas classrooms," said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Figures released Thursday by Comptroller Susan Combs showed state sales tax collections falling $1.5 billion short of projections. Not a pretty number in an already gruesome year.
- Newt Gingrich has risen to the top of the crowded heap of potential candidates Texas Republicans are pining for come 2012, according to a recent poll.
- While it's been all Texas vs. Washington lately, here's a new twist that you might not have heard of: Texas vs. Google.
- The Tribune's Kate Galbraith today concludes her three-part series on an embattled plan to stretch wind power transmission lines across the state, with a look at obstacles faced in the Panhandle. The first part outlined mounting opposition to the plan, and the second looked at the fight brewing in the Hill Country.
"I have always believed that [Rick] Perry is running for national office. Why else would he run for a third term? More land deals? More budget cuts? Pick A&M’s next football coach? Prepare for a fourth term in 2014? Been there, done that." — Paul Burka, Texas Monthly
The Eighteen Billion Dollar Man, Texas Monthly
Mexican police didn't know they'd caught drug capo, El Paso Times
Hispanic could command A&M corps, San Antonio Express-News
Obama speech under the radar this year, Houston Chronicle
Murderer Freed on Probation Fails to Comply With Terms, The Texas Tribune