Texas Republicans Vote Alongside Democrats To Reject School Choice

Texas House Republicans voted alongside Democrats to reject a school choice measure, thereby stripping the provision from an omnibus education bill. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has been a vocal proponent of this measure. After 21 Republicans joined with Democrats to kill the bill in the House, Abbott insinuated that he would keep calling sessions until it was passed.

On Friday, the Texas House convened to vote on an amendment filed by Rep. John Raney (R-College Station) to remove the school choice measure from the education bill. The House voted 84-63 to successfully pass Raney’s amendment after 21 Republicans voted with Democrats. This ultimately led to the school choice provision being rejected from the bill.

A school choice measure has become somewhat controversial among Texas Republicans this year. Gov. Abbott has publicly lauded the idea of school choice, as have many other House Republicans. However, since April of this year, some House Republicans have signaled that they wouldn’t vote for a school choice provision to be a part of the education bill.

This school choice provision would have allowed parents to use tax dollars when sending their children to private or religious schools, rather than public schools. Opponents of this school voucher program believe that this measure would divert money away from public schools.

Rep. Raney, who filed the amendment to remove the voucher program, spoke on the House floor about why he rejected this provision. “I believe in my heart that using taxpayer dollars to fund an entitlement program is not conservative and is bad public policy, period,” he said.

However, House Republicans who are in favor of the voucher program quickly voiced their disappointment in the 21 Republicans who killed the provision. Gov. Abbott is one Republican who has also voiced his disappointment publicly.

“I will continue advancing school choice in the Texas Legislature and at the ballot box, and will maintain the fight for parent empowerment until all parents can choose the best education path for their child,” Abbott said to Austin American-Statesman.

Gov. Abbott has called four special sessions to try to pass a school choice measure. After this latest failure, he has said he will continue calling special sessions until it has passed. Abbott has also indicated that he will reject any education bill that doesn’t include school vouchers.

Democrats in Texas have already celebrated their victory in stopping a school choice voucher program. Texas House Rep. James Talarico (D) from Austin said, “We did it. We just defeated Greg Abbott’s voucher scam. The People’s House has spoken. I’m so proud of the bipartisan coalition in the Texas House that defended our schools and our kids.”