Gov. Greg Abbott called on members of the Texas Legislature to expand education freedom and get school choice across the finish line.
On Thursday, the Texas Public Policy Foundation hosted its 2023 Parent Empowerment Leadership Summit dinner in Austin. Abbott made an appearance to discuss the need for state-funded Education Savings Accounts.
“As we traveled the state of Texas—helping educators, legislators, and Texans understand what we were doing about school choice—we began on the 20 yard line,” said Abbott.
With each passing day, we made yard after yard, first down after first down. We as a state have an obligation to our kids—to get them educated—and we can do that with a universal Education Savings Account program in the state of Texas. What we are doing is running a relay race that began in 1989. The baton has now been handed off to me, and it is my job to carry it to the finish line. I am committed to however long it takes, and I will not stop until we get school choice passed in the state of Texas.
On Thursday, the Texas Senate passed multiple pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 1, which creates $8,000 educational savings accounts for students. The legislation passed by a vote of 18-13, with State Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville) as the lone Republican to vote against it.
Gov. Abbott also said on Thursday, “Once ESAs are passed, I will put on the legislative call the funding for public education, including teacher pay raises.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 2 to accomplish that. SB 2 will provide a $10,000 raise for rural teachers and a $3,000 raise for urban teachers. It will also double both the per-student and per-campus school safety allotments.
Although the Texas Senate is moving swiftly to pass school choice legislation, the Texas House continues to slow-roll Abbott’s legislative priorities.
School choice advocate Corey DeAngelis told Texas Scorecard the House Republicans need to get on board:
Governor Greg Abbott is a true education freedom fighter. As he put it, all Texas families will be empowered with school choice one way or another, the easy way or the hard way. If Texas House Republicans are smart, they’ll take the “easy way” by voting for their party platform issue of school choice. If RINOs vote against their party platform and block parental rights in education, they’ll learn the hard way by losing their primary elections.
“Parents are the new special interest group in town,” said DeAngelis. “Texas politicians would be wise to listen to them going forward. Arizona had one-seat GOP majorities in each chamber in 2022, and they passed universal school choice. This year, all North Carolina Republicans supported universal school choice and got the job done. Texas should have no problem getting the ball across the finish line this month if all politicians with an ‘R’ next to their name voted like Republicans to empower all families with education freedom,” he added.
The third legislative special session expires on November 7.