The Texas House’s efforts to kill school choice is gaining national criticism with America’s largest newspaper scorching them in today’s issue. “Republicans in Texas have stymied efforts to improve educational options for poor kids,” blares the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal isn’t wrong, last week lawmakers (including a majority of House Republicans) voted overwhelmingly for a budget rider preventing state funds from being appropriated for the Texas Senate’s school choice proposal—even voting against a conservative amendment offered by State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) that would have preserved the opportunity for poor families to have choices in their education.
“A lot of opponents of school choice say, ‘This is only for the rich.’ This amendment allows poor families to have a choice,” Cain said. His proposal was defeated by an even larger margin of 117-27.
The pair of budget votes were only the most recent skirmishes in what has been an all-out war between the Democrat coalition that governs the Texas House and the conservative Texas Senate.
As the Journal puts it:
“Republicans in the Texas House have deep-sixed legislation passed by the state Senate creating tax-credit scholarships and education-savings accounts for low-income kids. After rural lawmakers complained that vouchers would harm their local schools, Senate Republicans restricted scholarship eligibility to the state’s 17 largest counties and capped tax credits at $25 million.
House Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty says the bill is dead on arrival, and more than two-thirds of House lawmakers voted last week to ban state funds from flowing to private schools. In February Mr. Huberty called vouchers “a solution in search of a problem.” Would he like to defend the status quo in Houston where a mere one in five eighth-graders score proficient in reading?”
Expanding parental choice in education is a major priority of conservatives in Texas and across the nation. Established as a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, lawmakers that oppose the issue do so at their own peril.