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Big Money, Bigger Myths: Debunking Abbott’s Voucher Lies 

Governor Greg Abbott has never been above using cheap tactics to push his agenda, but it was recently reported that now he is outright lying to constituents.

“To say that those who voted against vouchers are frustrated by this would be an understatement. To say the attacks are dishonest almost feels gratuitous,” Scott Braddock, editor of Quorum Report, reported.

Abbott is targeting rural incumbent GOP state representatives who in November voted against his push for a school voucher-like plan known as education savings accounts, or ESAs.

Here is a list of things Gov. Abbott has said that isn’t true. Most of these were first reported by the Quorum Report and the Houston Chronicle.

1. Claim: Crediting himself for personally crafting House Bill 1. Abbott claims he drafted HB1, which included school vouchers, eliminating the STAAR test, pay raises for teachers and billions in additional funding to public schools.

Reality: Texas House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley is the author of HB1. Why doesn’t Abbott credit him? Because it would make “no political sense.” It was actually Rep. Buckley who decided to not continue discussing HB1 after rural Republicans and Democrats voted to take out the school voucher provision.

“Buckley is the one who killed teacher pay raises and the rest of it, not the members who voted against vouchers,” said Braddock from QR.

Receipts: In an article by Texas Standard, back in November, Sergio Martínez-Beltrán, who covers the Capitol for the Texas Newsroom said: 

“[HB 1] was this education omnibus bill that … also included funding to increase the basic allotment, which is the per-pupil funding, but a coalition of rural Republicans and Democrats voted to take out that school voucher provision. And what happened was that the author of the bill, Chairman Brad Buckley, decided to send back the bill to committee. So the House didn’t fully vote on the measure … and it’s our understanding that Chairman Buckley is not planning on having any more discussions on HB 1. So HB 1 is presumed dead.”

In addition, Rep. Buckley cited Abbott’s threat to veto any education funding that did not come with vouchers when he withdrew HB1.

2. Claim: 21 rural Republicans voted against teacher pay raises and additional funding for schools, among them Rep. Steve Allison, Rep. Drew Darby, Rep. John Kuempel, Rep. Stan Lambert, and Rep. Glenn Rogers, Rep. Travis Clardy.

“Travis Clardy voted against the 89% of the people who voted in the Republican Primary,” Abbott said at a recent rally in Nacogdoches. “But it gets worse. I put together a bill that not only would provide school choice, but also would provide $6 billion more for our public schools, teacher pay raises, and get rid of the dreaded STAAR test in Texas. He voted to kill that.”

Reality: Rural Republicans and Democrats voted on the Raney Amendment, which stripped the voucher provision from HB1. There was never a vote regarding teacher pay raises and additional funding. Abbott never approved a teacher pay raise vote without it being tied to vouchers.

Receipts: Rep. Allison tried at the end of the final special session of 2023 to bring a teacher pay raise to the House floor for a vote. Speaker Phelan did not even entertain that idea, effectively keeping it off Abbott’s desk, as reported by The Quorum Report.

“There was absolutely no reason in the world why the rest of that bill couldn’t have gone forward — and I think we would have passed it,” Allison told The Houston Chronicle, adding that he supported the rest of the $7 billion measure. If anything, he argued, it did not go far enough to boost education funding.

3. Claim: “Vouchers are extremely popular.”

“It’s extraordinarily popular in House District 11,” Abbott said at a recent rally in Nacogdoches. “If you recall when you voted in the primary just two years ago, there was a ballot initiative for you to vote on, one of which was ‘Do you support school choice?’ The results from this district were resounding. Eighty-nine percent of you said ‘Yes, we want school choice in Texas.’ ”

Reality: Voters did not actually cast a ballot on that specific question.

Receipts: The statement on the ballot was: “Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.”

86.7% of the 38,339 registered voters in the Republican primary in Nacogdoches county voted on the above proposition. But only 6,297 said yes to the statement and 1,200 voters chose not to vote.

“The small sample size shows us that about 31,000 Nacogdoches voters here had no opinion or didn’t vote on the issue,” said The Daily Sentinel’s editorial piece titled “There’s liars, damned liars and Greg Abbott.”

4. Claim: The same rural Republicans who voted against vouchers are insufficiently tough on border security. Gov. Abbott recently said he doesn’t trust Rep. DeWayne Burns on the border issue at all and added Burns’ makes it a habit to “masquerade as a Republican but repeatedly vote with Democrats.”

Reality: Abbott’s harsh comments were in response to Burns’ campaign mail pieces telling voters “The Truth About ‘School Choice’ Vouchers.” The mailer reads “illegal immigrants would receive these handouts” and notes “Islamic religious schools are eligible” for them as well.

Braddock from QR points out that these messages are offensive to Democrats and underscores “there’s a menu of conservative arguments against vouchers.” So, Abbott’s claim that these rural republicans are “liberals” for siding with Democrats on vouchers is not very credible. Receipts: What Gov. Abbott leaves out from his ads is that every Republican in the Texas House supported a far-reaching new law that empowers state officials to essentially deport people who are suspected of crossing the border illegally. They also backed a contentious bill that establishes stiffer penalties for human smuggling and approved more than $6.5 billion for border security over the next two years, including $1.5 billion to continue building a wall along Texas’ southern border.

“I’d like to see them point to one border bill that I didn’t vote for, or show anything that I’ve ever done except being 100% behind border security,” Rep. Allison told the Houston Chronicle. “I’ve been down there three times. I have voted for every appropriation — I was on (the House) Appropriations (Committee) — and voted for every request the governor has made.”

Written by RA News staff.


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