(NN&V Staff) – Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today warned governors of the fifty states that the $10 billion in state education spending included in legislation signed into law “is for all intents and purposes mandatory under the federal statute.”
Wilson pointed to Section 101(8) of H.R. 1586 which states that if a governor fails to apply for funding within 30 days, “the Secretary shall provide for funds allocated to that State to be distributed to another entity or other entities in the State … for support of elementary and secondary education, under such terms and conditions as the Secretary may establish.”
“This is completely unconstitutional, as it coerces states to accept the terms and conditions that come with the money. The federal government has no power to compel states to spend money on a mandatory basis, but that is exactly what this law does,” Wilson declared.
“The federal government is forcing states to keep funding through FY 2011, and through FY 2013 solely for the state of Texas, at pre-recession levels despite the obvious need for cuts at the state and local levels of government, and telling governors that if they do not apply for the funding, then the federal government will force them to accept it,” Wilson explained.
Wilson said Section 101(8) explained the statement issued by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s press secretary yesterday that “the Governor will apply for the education funding passed by the House today in order to ensure it is managed and distributed to local school districts by the State of New Jersey, and not the federal government.”
The statement continued, “Guaranteeing New Jersey is in control of these education dollars will ensure that these funds are used by all school districts to help restore some of the federal stimulus funds lost in this year’s difficult budget.”
Wilson said that Governor Christie’s position was “understandable since the federal government would otherwise come in and distribute the funds one way or another,” but added, “it forces New Jersey and other states to keep this level of pre-recession funding through FY 2011 when revenue will not likely recover next year.”
Governor Christie’s press secretary statement criticized the legislation for that exact reason, saying, “Governor Chris Christie believes that using this type of non-recurring funding for operating expenses is ill advised because it will disappear after one year”.
According to Katherine Cesinger, Deputy Press Secretary of Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas has to provide the funding through FY 2013: “[H.R. 1586] mandates that the governor guarantee the Legislature will provide a certain level of state funding through 2013, a funding scheme prohibited by the Texas Constitution. It will be at least June 1, 2011, before the legislature passes and the Comptroller certifies the 2012-2013 budget.”
Yesterday, Governor Perry issued a statement saying, “We’ll continue to work with state leaders, including the attorney general, to fight this injustice.”
Wilson praised Perry’s vow to fight the bill: “Governor Perry deserves the thanks of all Texans for standing up to the federal government’s invasive meddling in state budgetary matters. Budget determinations are granted to the legislative and executive branches of Texas under its sovereign constitution, not to Barack Obama.”
According to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the terms of the bill force states to reallocate money away from other parts of the state budget directly to education: “The Bill as passed the Senate will force Mississippi to rewrite its current year (FY11) budget. Preliminary estimates of the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration show that we will now have to spend between $50-100 million of state funds — funds that must be taken away from public safety, human services, mental health and other state priorities and given to education — in order for an additional $98 million of federal funds to be granted to education.”
Governor Barbour continued, “There is no justification for the federal government hijacking state budgets, but that is exactly what Congress has done.”
Wilson urged states to fight the measure, concluding, “This bill gives the federal government the power to administer state budgets and force unsustainable levels of funding on the states, a flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment and state sovereignty. If states fail to push back against this usurpation, it will just be the first of many new federal mandates imposed on states by the Obama regime.”