Texas Lege Candidates Support Key Private School Voucher Position

by Dan Quinn

Another sign that private school vouchers will be a battle in the 2013 legislative session in Texas: at least 35 Republican candidates for the Texas House of Representatives on November 6 have indicated that they support an argument used by voucher advocates for draining tax dollars from public schools to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools.

The candidates were responding to a voter guide questionnaire sponsored by several religious-right groups. The 35 said they either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the following statement:

“Free market competition for education dollars, rather than a government monopoly, would create a better education for all students.”

Advocates of publicly funded vouchers for private and religious schools have long argued that “competition” will improve education (despite research debunking the claim). The 35 GOP candidates who indicated their support for the pro-voucher argument:

District 6 Matt Schaefer
District 12 Kyle Kacal
District 15 Steve Toth
District 17 Tim Kleinschmidt
District 23 Wayne Faircloth
District 24 Greg Bonnen
District 26 Rick Miller
District 29 Ed Thompson
District 33 Scott Turner
District 45 Jason Isaac
District 47 Paul Workman
District 59 JD Sheffield
District 61 Phil King
District 65 Ron Simmons
District 69 James Frank
District 74 Thomas Kincaid
District 78 Dee Margo
District 92 Jonathan Strickland
District 93 Matt Krause
District 96 Bill Zedler
District 97 Craig Goldman
District 98 Giovanni Capriglione
District 106 Pat Fallon
District 115 Bennett Ratliff
District 117 John Garza
District 118 Robert Casias
District 125 Alma Perez Jackson
District 132 Bill Callegari
District 133 Jim Murphy
District 136 Tony Dale
District 139 Sam Brocato
District 141 Michael Bunch
District 143 Doug Weiskopf
District 149 Dianne Williams
District 150 Debbie Riddle

Republican Dan Huberty in District 127 and Democrat Alex J. Hernandez in District 30 said they disagreed with the pro-voucher statement. (Hernandez was the only Democrat to respond to the candidate questionnaire.) Four Republican candidates answered “neutral” on the question: Phil Stephenson in District 85, Four Price in District 87, Kenneth Sheets in District 107 and Cindy Burkett in District 113.

The other Democratic and Republican nominees for the 150-seat Texas House (including some who have in the past publicly supported private school vouchers) did not answer this particular question, did not respond at all to the survey or were not surveyed because they are running unopposed on November 6.

In Senate races on the November ballot, six Republican candidates said they “agree” or “strongly agree” with the pro-voucher statement:

District 5 Charles Schwertner
District 8 Ken Paxton
District 11 Larry Taylor
District 20 Raul Torres
District 21 Grant Rostig
District 25 Donna Campbell

The survey was sponsored by three Texas-based religious-right groups and the American Family Association (AFA), a Mississippi-based organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group. Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the AFA to organize his prayer extravaganza in Houston in August 2011, an event that occurred just a week before the governor declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. The Texas groups involved in the voter guide project are Texas Eagle Forum, Heritage Alliance and Liberty Institute/Texas Values. Click here to read the voter guide.

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Texas Freedom Network

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