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Teacher jobs act becomes political football

September 1, 2010

Democrats running for office all over the state are condemning Governor Carcieri’s plan to divert nearly $33-million in new federal funding from schools to Medicaid. Carcieri, a Republican, says their criticism misses the point.

“First of all we have some of the highest funding for schools in the nation, so its not like we’ve been short changing,” Carcieri said. “They took a 3.8 percent reduction this last year. I think that’s very small in the whole scheme of what we as a state and a nation have been going through.”

Rhode Island is still in the process of applying for the federal funds, which were appropriated by Congress last month to restore and maintain school staffing levels.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio has written a letter to Carcieri calling his plan “irresponsible.” Other Democrats criticizing the plan including incumbent State Representative Douglas Gablinske, Providence mayoral candidate Angel Taveras and U.S. congressional candidate and current Providence Mayor David Cicilline.

Teachers union leaders and Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist have also called the plan into question, saying the governor is ignoring is the intent of the federal act.

Ultimately it will be up to the General Assembly to decide how to use the funds, but lawmakers do not plan to reconvene until January.

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