All the signs at the state Capitol today pointed in the same direction: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the state Senate, is pressing hard for a vote of the full Senate as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29, on two of his worst proposals. One of them, SB 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), is a voucher bill that would use public funds to subsidize unaccountable private schools. The other, SB 13 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), would prohibit your voluntary payroll deduction of dues you choose to pay to your professional organization. The two bills are intimately connected. The voucher bill aims toward the privatization of public education. The dues-deduction ban aims to silence the collective voice of education employees in opposition to bad policy ideas like vouchers (or like the inadequate state budget the Senate passed this afternoon in SB 1).
At this writing the word is that Patrick is engineering an overhaul of the voucher bill to be presented in an amendment on the Senate floor. The substitute apparently is designed to reduce the bill’s officially estimated cost and to reduce senatorial resistance by exempting rural areas. But the essential idea would remain unchanged: a drain of funds from the public treasury for the benefit of private schools, both religious and secular, that do not have to meet state academic and financial accountability requirements.
The payroll-deduction ban in SB 13 by all accounts will reach the floor without any significant changes from the version heard in committee on February 16. It remains an unvarnished attack on your freedom to spend your own hard-earned money as you see fit, and the political motivation behind it is blatant.
Both of these bad bills need to be stopped in their tracks. Call on your legislators now to say no to promoting vouchers and no to silencing your voice. We’ll repeat what yesterday’s Hotline urged–the three steps you need to take to kill these attacks:
1) Call your state senator and tell him or her to oppose SB 3 and SB 13. (You can fill out a short form here that automatically connects you by phone to your senator’s office.
Let’s make our voices heard and stop these bad bills! We’ve done it in sessions past, and we can do it again!