Voucher Bill Sneaks Through Committee At Closed Meeting On House Floor

Voucher Bill Sneaks Through Committee At Closed Meeting On House Floor

April 3, 2003

Austin, TX Chairman Kent Grusendorf called an impromtu meeting of the House Public Education Committee at his desk on the House floor this morning and hurriedly passed out his controversial voucher bill, H.B. 2465.

For the next two years, H.B. 2465 would create a private school voucher program in Texas school districts with more than 40,000 students, in which a majority of the students are eligible for the federal free and reduced price lunch program.

Starting in 2005, the voucher “pilot” program would be open to any school district and any child, thus making the more than 4 million public and charter school school students in Texas 1,040 school districts eligible for a voucher.

“It’s no surprise that this bill was snuck through at a closed meeting on the floor, given the unpopularity of vouchers and the drastic nature of this bill,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which advocates against vouchers.

“This voucher bill is so fiscally irresponsible that it drew bipartisan opposition,” said Smoot. “Our state is facing a $10 billion budget deficit and our schools are facing billions in education cuts. Texans know that now is not the time to drain millions more from our public schools.”

The voucher bill drew bipartisan opposition, with Rep. Glenda Dawson (R-Pearland), Rep. Bob Griggs (R-N. Richland Hills) and Rep. Scott Hochberg voting against the bill. Voting for the bill were Representatives Dan Branch (R-Dallas), Harold Dutton (D-Houston), Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands), Kent Grusendorf (R-Arlington). Rep. Rene Oliveria (D-Brownsville) was absent for the vote.