The Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives voted to reject a school choice measure on Friday, drawing the ire of Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
The measure to create a Texas Education Savings Account was taken out of an omnibus education bill after Republican Rep. John Raney introduced an amendment to take it out, saying that it was an entitlement program. The amendment to remove school choice from the bill passed 84-63, with 21 Republicans voting for the amendment.
“I believe in my heart that using taxpayer dollars to fund an entitlement program is not conservative and is bad public policy, period,” Raney said, according to The Center Square. KVUE reported that most of the Republicans who supported the amendment were from rural districts.
House Public Education Committee Chairman Brad Buckle, the author of the bill, said during debate on the bill that Texas lawmakers had the opportunity “for the first time in Texas, give parents of the most vulnerable real options for a better future for their kids.”
Abbott has consistently called for school choice, and said that he was disappointed with the House vote.
“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 told the Austin American-Statesman. “I am in it to win it.”
“The small minority of pro-union Republicans in the Texas House who voted with the Democrats will not derail the outcome that their voters demand,” he said.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick also criticized the decision, referring to the fact that the Texas Senate had passed school choice several times over the few years, including during the special session. Last week, the Senate passed a bill that would have allocated $8,000 per student in private or public school for education related costs.
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that the Republicans who voted to take the school choice measure out of the education bill should be primaried.
“The group of anti-parent Republican Texas State Reps. who voted today with radical unions over parents and kids to kill school choice should be on notice. Their actions today were completely shameful,” Cruz said. “Parents in these districts will work vigorously in the primaries to defeat them. School choice advocates are coming for these State Reps.’s seats, and they’re coming HARD.”
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