Dueling press releases, in perfect sync

Is Schwarzenegger standing between California schools and their desperately-needed federal Education Jobs funding, or is the governor simply waiting for lawmakers to send the related state legislation (SB 847) to his desk? (And why do they need to do this? I thought that part was automatic.)

At exactly 1:36 p.m., I got two news alerts — from the offices of U.S. Representative George Miller and Schwarzenegger, respectively — that said opposite things.

First, from Miller:

Chairman Miller Responds to Schwarzenegger Decision to Withhold California Education Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, today issued the following statement in response to Governor Schwarzenegger’s decision to withhold $1.2 billion in federal school jobs grants for the state of California. Miller fought for almost a year for additional aid to keep teachers in the classroom, funding that Congress approved last month in a rare emergency session.

“By withholding $1.2 billion in education funding, the governor is depriving California students, teachers and aides of critical resources just as they’re returning to the classroom. California’s struggling economy needs this money to ensure that our children don’t become victims of Wall Street’s scandals, and to continue the education reform efforts of President Obama and Secretary Duncan. The Schwarzenegger administration is proving to be an unreliable partner in our efforts to reform California schools. The governor is playing politics with California schools, putting 16,500 teacher jobs at risk and jeopardizing the future of millions of students. I urge him to sign this legislation, which will distribute the badly needed funding.” …

Then, from Sacramento:

Gov. Schwarzenegger Sends Letters Requesting SB 847 and AB 185

Governor Schwarzenegger today sent a letter to legislative leaders requesting that they immediately send Senate Bill 847 to his desk, which will allow for the allocation of the federal Education Jobs funding to schools districts to use to re-hire or retain teachers, nurses, counselors, librarians and other school-related personnel.

Additionally, the Governor sent a letter requesting Assembly Bill 185 which will allow the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds intended to turn around low-performing schools and the remaining State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) Recovery Act funding to be allocated to districts. With the state legislature unable to pass a budget, these measures are necessary to immediately distribute this crucial funding to California’s schools.

“Under the Governor’s leadership, California was the first state in the nation to submit the Education Jobs funding application to the U.S. Department of Education so that this funding would reach our schools quickly,” said California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss. “Since being elected, the Governor has fought to ensure that California receives its fair share of federal dollars, and is pleased that these federal funds will be used to support California’s children in the classroom.”

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Katy Murphy

    And a third release, from Jack O’Connell, that brings some clarity:

    State Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Thanks Governor For
    Taking Next Step Toward Signing Education Funding Bills Into Law

    SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today thanked Governor Schwarzenegger for asking the state Legislature to send him Senate Bill (SB) 847 and Assembly Bill (AB) 185. The two bills authorize the state to distribute federal education funds and would take effect immediately upon his signature.

    “These federal education funds are critically needed and needed now,” O’Connell said. “I applaud the Governor for taking action and reacting quickly to the pleas of schools and districts around the state. I urge him to sign the bills into law now so we can distribute the funding to schools that have been hard hit by the state budget crisis.”

    California’s Constitution requires that without a state budget, any appropriation bill, like SB 847 and AB 185, may not be sent to the governor’s desk unless the governor requests them by a formal letter. Today, Governor Schwarzenegger announced that he sent letters requesting SB 847 and AB 185 be sent to him because they constitute emergencies.