‘Funding cliff’ looms as stimulus money runs out

Texas has seen a much larger chunk of jobs aid, $830 million, blocked because state officials have not been able to promise they would meet congressional rules for maintaining future K-12 education funding. The 2010 stimulus requires assurances that the state won’t cut its own education funding in response to the federal money, and Texas has taken that requirement to federal court.

The state faces an estimated $27 billion, two-year budget shortfall that could cost as many as 65,000 school employees their jobs, the Texas Association of School Administrators estimates.

States that have received education jobs money appear to be on very different schedules for spending it—which by law they can do this academic year or next.

Missouri has not yet spent any of its $190 million share but is counting on it to make up for shrunken state revenues and the stimulus gap, as is New Jersey, which saved its share to cover the coming academic year.

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In Idaho, 50 of the 115 school districts have drawn down a combined $5 million of the state’s $51.6 million allotment. State officials have proposed cuts to K-12 education funding for next year, so the remaining money is expected to help make up some of the loss. Massachusetts’ school districts so far have spent about half the state’s $204 million jobs money.

Iowa will receive $97 million through the federal Education Jobs Fund. But that’s small compared to the stimulus money that saved an estimated 3,500 jobs, said Jeff Berger, the chief financial officer and government-relations coordinator for the state Education Department.

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