In my comments about last night’s presidential debate, I wondered aloud whether John Kerry had actually said that Arizona’s property taxes were higher because George Bush didn’t fully fund No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Well, I checked the transcript, and he did say it. Here’s the quote:
Now right here in Arizona, that difference would have been $131 million to the state of Arizona to help its kids be able to have better education and to lift the property tax burden from its citizens. The president reneged on his promise to fund No Child Left Behind.
This is dishonest on a couple of levels. First, it’s a myth that NCLB isn’t fully funded. The claim is fabricated on the fact that not all the money that is earmarked for NCLB has been released to the states. This is by design. Federal funding for these types of programs is released in installments. The reason the remaining money hasn’t been released is because the states haven’t spent they money they’ve already been given. Far from being short on funds to enact the provisions of NCLB, states are having trouble spending the money fast enough to trigger the next installment.
Second, it’s ludicrous for Kerry to suggest that additional NCLB funds would “lift the property tax burden” from Arizona’s citizens. NCLB funds are not general funds to be used in place of state and local education dollars. NCLB funds are designated specifically to fund NCLB provisions; they cannot be used for other purposes. Remember that NCLB is a separate, voluntary program, designed primarily to monitor and evaluate student achievement. Using NCLB funds to defray other education costs is illegal. Kerry must know this.