Senate Rejects Vouchers in TEA Reauthorization Bill

Senate Rejects Vouchers in TEA Reauthorization Bill

Senate Passes Bill after Sponsor Pledges to Reject Any Efforts by House to Add Vouchers

May 9, 2005

AUSTIN The president of the Texas Freedom Network today commended state senators for closing the door on any voucher amendments to a bill reauthorizing the Texas Education Agency (TEA). “Senators today took a strong stand for neighborhood public schools and against reckless schemes like private school vouchers,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “Vouchers are so controversial that lobbyists hope to sneak a voucher amendment in through a back door. Senators today firmly closed one
such door.”

Senators voted to pass Senate Bill 422, which authorizes TEA to continue operations, a requirement under existing “sunset” rules. Responding to direct questions from three other senators (Royce West, D-Dallas; Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio; and Rodney Ellis, D-Houston) before the final vote, the sponsor of SB 422, Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, pledged that he would not concur on any House TEA reauthorization legislation that includes vouchers.

Vouchers are tax dollars used to pay for tuition at private and religious schools. The Legislature has rejected attempts to pass a voucher scheme in every session since 1995. Last week, however, the House Public Education Committee passed H.B. 1263, which would drain more than $600 million from public schools over the next two years to pay for voucher programs in the state’s largest counties. That bill has not yet been considered by the full House.