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Rural Republicans Feel The Heat As Abbott’s Voucher Agenda Divides Texas GOP

On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott delivered the State of the State address, where he expressed his intention to eliminate “woke agendas” in schools, declaring school choice, a.k.a vouchers, an emergency item.

“To be clear, under this school choice program, all public schools will be fully funded for every student,” said Abbott. “This is so vital to the future of our state that I am making education freedom an emergency item this session.”

This just fast tracked the voucher fight, which is making some rural Republicans and advocates skittish, as the pressure from outside bodies escalates.

During the first 60 days of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers are barred from passing legislation. They can look at it and hold hearings on them, but they can’t actually vote on it. Unless it’s declared an emergency by Abbott, in which case they can hurry up and vote (if they want to).

Since the 60 day requirement for voucher bills (March 10) was removed, insider sources said there is a great deal of concern: “as of this week, anything goes.”

Under Pressure

In the past school choice plans have failed because rural lawmakers, including Republicans in the House, believed it would hurt school districts.

Abbott has gone out of his way to reassure rural lawmakers that school choice will not affect public school funding – even though he has no proof to back up this claim.

House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, recently told CBS 11 that it’s too early in the session for him to weigh-in. “I don’t know where we’re going to end up, I really don’t. The Texas House is different because you have so many rural members. I represent an area that’s considered rural Texas and they’re very concerned with how school choice impacts their home districts. I need to see some very specific legislation and I haven’t seen it yet.”

Phelan seems to remain skeptical of vouchers, which puts a big target on his back. Insider information says Phelan is getting tremendous pressure from the Catholic Bishops in the Rio Grande Valley and in his hometown (Beaumont) to do something around parochial schools.

Apparently Catholics need this money, since they are paying out tons on child abuse cases – the Catholic Church in the United States has paid out more than $3 billion in sexual abuse settlements.

Phelan isn’t the only Republican feeling the pressure.

Other lawmakers have begun to fall prey to Abbotts hunt. There has been talk amongst well-placed Republicans about changing their stances on vouchers, just so they can be able to pass their own legislation – far-right Republicans have a history of casting out their own if they don’t comply with the “status quo.”

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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