Voucher Defeat a Triumph for Texas Families and Neighborhood Public Schools
Vouchers Still Radioactive for Most Legislators
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUSTIN The failure of a proposed voucher program in the Texas House on Monday shows that opposition to such schemes remains strong particularly among legislators who represent public schools that would be hurt most, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.
“The votes yesterday made it clear that vouchers are radioactive,” said TFN President Kathy Miller. “The closer you get to them, the deadlier they are.”
Early amendments to strip a voucher pilot program from Senate Bill 422, the Texas Education Agency Sunset bill, narrowly failed. Then the House added Arlington and Irving schools to the pilot program. Two legislators who represent those schools Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, and Rep. Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie then joined voucher opponents in a successful 74-70 vote to gut the program. That amendment offered by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth made vouchers available for only public, not private, schools.
Monday’s votes came after a weeklong effort by House leaders, Gov. Rick Perry and major campaign contributors like Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio to strong-arm lawmakers into supporting the voucher scheme. Those efforts failed, as they have in every legislative session since 1995.
“Lawmakers know that most parents oppose taking tax dollars from public schools to subsidize private schools,” Miller said. “So Monday was truly a victory for parents, schoolchildren and our neighborhood schools over pressure politics and big campaign donors.”
Facts about Monday’s Voucher Votes
- The voucher pilot program in S.B. 422 could have cost public schools in Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Fort Worth and Travis counties about $600 million over two years.
- 35 of 49 legislators including four Republicans whose districts include schools that would have been part of the pilot program voted for an amendment that stripped vouchers out of S.B. 422. That amendment by Rep. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels failed on a tie vote, 72-72.
- 13 Republicans and all 59 Democrats present voted in favor of Rep. Casteel’s anti-voucher amendment.
- 15 Republicans and all 59 Democrats present voted in favor of Rep. Geren’s amendment to strip private schools from the voucher program