The chairman of the Texas House Public Education Committee, Rep. Brad Buckley, has indicated that a proposal to create a school voucher-like program in the state is unlikely to move forward, at least during the current special session. This development follows months of intense disagreements among GOP lawmakers and occurs with less than a week remaining in the special session, which ends on November 7.
Buckley cited the legislative rules and time constraints as obstacles to advancing the proposal, stating, “The House has rules, and we are up against the timeline.”
NPR’s Sergio Martínez-Beltrán asked Buckley whether the House would consider adopting the Senate’s school voucher plan as a solution. In response, Buckley firmly stated, “No, we’ll have a House plan.”
Earlier in the day, Governor Greg Abbott had expressed his intention to work with the Texas House on a measure to establish education savings accounts (ESAs), which would redirect public funds to cover the private and parochial school tuition for eligible students. Abbott also expanded the special session’s agenda to include teacher salary raises and school safety funding, in addition to ESAs.
Although Abbott claimed to have reached an agreement with House Speaker Dade Phelan on vouchers, the House recessed without addressing any voucher-related measures. Phelan stated that the House would reconvene on either Monday or Tuesday, the final day of the special session.
Rep. Buckley expressed doubts about the House’s ability to pass school vouchers within the remaining timeframe, stating, “It’s too tight for the House to be able to move something in this special.”
The Texas Senate had previously passed its version of school vouchers, offering qualifying students approximately $8,000. However, Buckley affirmed that the House would not accept the Senate’s plan.
School vouchers have been a priority for Governor Abbott since the beginning of the legislative session, but it has faced strong opposition. Most Democrats and some rural Republican lawmakers have pledged to vote against the legislation. Abbott has indicated his intention to call for another special session until school vouchers are successfully passed.