Post-Midnight Voucher Vote in Texas Senate Deserves Swift House Rejection

HB 21, a good school-finance bill as it left the House, has been turned into a voucher bill in the Texas Senate. That’s the bottom-line significance of the post-midnight vote of the Senate on HB 21 on May 22.  The vote was 21-10–pretty much the same margin by which another voucher bill passed in the Senate months ago.

That earlier voucher bill went nowhere in the House, never coming up for  a hearing. The House expressed its opinion of vouchers in an early budget vote, with an amendment prohibiting any spending on private-school vouchers–an  amendment that passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 103 to 44.

By inserting a voucher “poison pill” into HB 21 and cutting most new school funding from the bill, the Senate led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is trying to force the House to accept the state’s first-ever voucher subsidy for private schools in exchange for a small remnant of the funding increase of up to $1.9 billion approved by the House for public education. The House should spurn that rotten deal and reject any future version of a voucher scheme that comes over from the Senate as well.

Thanks to the thousands of you who have helped hold the line against the Senate’s destructive voucher proposals by making calls and sending e-letters during the current legislative session from the Texas AFT legislative-action site online. Please stand ready by tomorrow to send one more round of messages against vouchers to the members of the Texas House.

The voucher fight is far from the only education battle under way at the state Capitol this week. You can expect updates on all the issues daily from now through the last day of the regular legislative session on May 29.