DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Democrats in Congress have signed a letter saying Governor Greg Abbott has not released billions in federal stimulus funding intended for public education, which they say is unacceptable.

They want action and are asking the U.S. Department of Education to step in.

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The letter was sent to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Monday, April 19, and is signed by all 13 Texas Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It says they’ve worked to secure more than $19 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds for Texas schools, approved in the CARES Act.

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They claim due to bad faith denial and delay of these funds by Governor Abbott, not a single dollar of the already approved funds have reached Texas schools.

And they’re now asking the Department of Education to step in.

They say this money would help *address COVID-19 related learning loss, *meet mental health challenges, *provide tutoring and remedial assistance, *close the digital divide and a host of other locally determined needs.

“The money is for education should be spent for education,” said U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. “The federal dollars is for enhancement and compensatory – where there are gaps. It is not to be used as basic – so that they can take that money and put it somewhere else. Nothing is more important than educating our young people. We cannot continue to push for additional compensatory dollars that are being misused.”

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred told CBS 11 in a statement:

“As the son of a Dallas public school teacher, I know how important it is that our schools, students, teachers, and faculty members have what they need to be successful and re-open. We passed the American Rescue Plan to help beat this virus, and it included much-needed resources for our school districts. Governor Abbott should quit playing politics and make this money available without any further delay.”

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CBS11 reached out to Gov. Abbott’s office for comment and were told he’s not publicly addressed this letter yet, but they’re working on it.

Erin Jones