Democratic Senator Agrees to File Tax Credit Voucher Scheme in Texas Lege

TAKE ACTION: Click here — www.tfn.org/novouchers — for more on how you can tell Sen. Lucio NOT to file his tax credit voucher bill.

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State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has been promising that the Senate Education Committee he chairs will consider legislation giving tax credits to businesses that donate money for student “scholarships” to private and religious schools in Texas. It appears that Sen. Patrick has found a senator to file such a bill: Democrat Eddie Lucio of Brownsville.

A Rio Grande Guardian article on Wednesday was the first to report that Sen. Lucio would file the tax credit voucher bill, justifying the scheme this way:

“It’s more of a tax credit bill where businesses are going to be able to have a chance to contribute to a very worthy cause of helping a group of students who will be classified as poor and needy and at risk. I feel very strongly that we should help everyone regardless of how we approach the issue.”

But Texas doesn’t need a law for that. Businesses (and anyone else, for that matter) already have the freedom to contribute to scholarships at private and religious schools.

In any case, both Senators Patrick and Lucio insist that their tax credit scheme isn’t a “voucher” plan. But it is. Instead of the state providing the direct tuition voucher to private schools, lawmakers would give a tax break (a credit on owed taxes) to businesses to do it. So tax dollars that would otherwise go to fund neighborhood public schools in Texas would wind up subsidizing private and religious schools instead. It’s something like legalized money laundering. The result would be diverting millions of tax dollars from public schools on top of the more than $5 billion in budget cuts lawmakers passed just two years ago.

Voucher lobbyists have pushed tax credit schemes in other states. Eight such states had them as of spring 2012. This fact sheet details how these schemes are a sham, with vouchers often going to students already attending private schools or to the children of donors instead of those from low-income families (as promised by voucher lobbyists).

It’s disappointing, to say the least, that a Democrat who has stood up for public education for years has now aligned himself with the very lobbyists who promote these voucher rackets and aren’t really interested in helping public schools. In fact, Sen. Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst held a December press conference about improving education — at a private school!

Stay tuned. The Texas Observer has more on Sen. Lucio’s tax credit voucher scheme here.

3 thoughts on “Democratic Senator Agrees to File Tax Credit Voucher Scheme in Texas Lege

  1. It is quite sad that a Democratic Senator was snookered by Patrick to file this deceitful and unethical bill. Does Lucio not realize that “his” bill, if made law, would help destroy public education in Texas? Someone (Sen. Kirk Watson?) needs to educate Lucio about the dangers of Patrick’s duplicitous legislation, a voucher scheme. Public schools receive state money on the basis of their daily attendance figures; if public school students are siphoned off by tax credit scholarships, public schools automatically lose state money. Does Lucio not understand this simple fact? If the cooperating businesses want to give their money to private school scholarships, they can do that directly rather than in a way that undermines public education.

  2. This is a shame but I suspect a republican dominated legislature will back this. Amazingly, the voter base of conservative working and middle class texans are shooting themselves in the foot when they support this type of legislation.
    I don’t know a SINGLE family of the many oil and gas professionals I know who are sending their children to private or religious schools. Who the heck are these people encouraging legislators to do this and where do they make their living? ……
    ?

  3. Steve. The overwhelming ignorance of these people never ceases to amaze me. For example, those extreme right wing conservatives who are so high and happy about “The Sequester” kicking in at midnight tonight appear to know nothing about the simple economic concept of induced dollar value in a local economy. This Economics 101 principle means that for every government subcontract worker (mostly workers at private sector businesses and independent small businesses) who gets laid off, those Level 1 layoffs will ripple through the economy causing the layoff of cashiers at the supermarket, hairdressers at the salon, stockers at Wal-Mart, and their own brother Fred. If they had a special diploma for stupidity, these extremist nit wits would all graduate Summa Cum Laude.

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