Texas Sen. Wendy Davis Schools Senate Ed Committee Chair on Voucher Bill

For months state Sen. Dan Patrick — the Republican chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee — has insisted that the Legislature should divert millions of dollars from public education to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. Sen. Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst even held a press conference at a parochial school in Austin to promote their ideas. They and other voucher advocates have often seemed to care more about helping private schools increase their enrollment than in helping the state’s public schools educate 5 million Texas kids.

But Sen. Patrick’s legislation creating a tax-credit voucher scheme, Senate Bill 23, ran into a buzz saw in today’s Education Committee hearing. That buzz saw was Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, a true champion for public education.

Sen. Davis pointed out that Texas ranks 49th among the nation’s 50 states and the District of Columbia in spending per pupil. In fact, just Nevada and Arizona spend less than Texas on a per-pupil basis. We’re starving our public schools, Sen. Davis said, and then blaming those schools when they struggle. And voucher schemes — whether through tax credits or direct state subsidies — would divert more money from those public schools.

Sen. Davis also noted a number of other problems with tax-credit voucher schemes like the one proposed by Sen. Patrick. For example, they advantage just one class of taxpayers — businesses that would get a state tax break for donations they make to voucher-scholarship programs. Donors to other charitable causes wouldn’t get a state tax break.

Sen. Davis also put the lie to claims that tax-credit vouchers wouldn’t take money from public education because, voucher advocates say, that money would never go through the state’s coffers in the first place. The truth, as Sen. Davis made clear, is that state tax breaks given to voucher donors would mean less money available for the Legislature to appropriate for public schools. She made that point when noting the threat to religious freedom posed by voucher schemes that divert public tax dollars to religious schools. That led her into a revealing exchange with Sen. Patrick:

Sen. Davis: “The concern is that a taxpayer who provides their resources to the state of Texas would ultimately be paying for a child to attend a school whose religious values they disagree with.”

Sen. Patrick claimed such criticism wasn’t warranted because his bill relies on tax credits for voucher-scholarship donors: “It’s not public education dollars. It’s a tax credit that an individual business or a businesses give to a student.”

Sen. Davis: “That would have otherwise have been paid in their margins tax, which would other have gone to public school system.”

Sen. Patrick: “It’s not public money coming out of public education, no matter how many times you say it.”

Sen. Davis: “And it’s not not, no matter how many times you say it.”


10 thoughts on “Texas Sen. Wendy Davis Schools Senate Ed Committee Chair on Voucher Bill

  1. Great comments by Wendy Davis. The fact is tax credits to businesses will reduce the amount of tax money paid by businesses for the state to spend on public education.

  2. It’s amazing Sen. Patrick doesn’t get this simple concept. It’s a zero sum game. Tax credits reduce the amount of government funds
    the state has to pay for public education or other government expenses. I went to a public school and understand this. Why doesn’t Dan Patrick?

      1. Because he is on the take. Follow the money. It will lead to a Houston hedge fund billionaire.

  3. Nothing like sentencing under priviledged kids to failing schools in Texas. That seems to be the goal of Davis.

    What is wrong with allowing parents to determine which institution is best to educate their children? Or is it that pols like Davis think parents are just too stupid to know what is best for their own kids?

    1. Parents can do that right now. They just can’t ask other Texas taxpayers to pay for their child’s private school tuition.

  4. I agree. I am a member of the United Methodist Church, and I do not want my tax dollars used to help the Southern Baptist Convention teach their apostate theology to Zane’s kids in a private SBC religious school.

    Now, if Zane wants to use his/her own personal dollars to have the SBC teach their apostate theology to his/her kids in a private church school, I have no beef with that—perhaps a little bit of pork—but no beef. Just leave my tax dollars out of the equation and use them for some secular purpose.

  5. Apparently there is no depth so low that Senator Patrick wont sink to. And he’ll deny his head is up his rectum by blaming the people for not talking loud enough.