In the ongoing debate over school voucher legislation in Texas, there appears to be a significant roadblock in the form of insufficient votes, according to Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, Ron Reynolds. While the Texas Senate has successfully passed its version of the legislation, the Texas House has not shown any signs of movement even after more than two weeks into the third special legislative session.
Representative Reynolds, a Democrat from Missouri City, believes that this lack of progress is unlikely to change anytime soon. He explains that most Democrats and rural Republicans have consistently opposed school vouchers for years due to concerns that such a program would have a detrimental impact on local public schools.
“The House is holding firm,” Reynolds emphasized during an interview on the television program “Inside Texas Politics.” He added, “We will not compromise by any means for vouchers in this special session, in the next special session, in another special session. We’re hardline no’s. There’s no compromise. There’s no deal.”
However, the lawmakers will now shift their attention to House Bill 1 (HB 1), which proposes providing parents with 75% of the average amount each school receives per student. Under this bill, the funding per student would increase by a meager amount to $6,190. Furthermore, the voucher payment to parents could potentially rise each year due to additional school funding sources.
The eligibility for the program would initially be limited to 25,000 Texas students in the first year. However, this number would progressively increase by 25,000 students every year until 2027, when the cap would be lifted. Additionally, HB 1 includes a provision to grant educators a one-time bonus of $4,000.
In contrast, the Texas Senate’s voucher legislation, Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), proposes providing parents with up to $8,000 in taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. SB 1 is open to most Texas students.
Despite the Governor’s threat to continue calling special sessions until school vouchers are passed, Representative Reynolds maintains that the necessary votes are not currently in favor of the legislation. He states, “They need 76 votes. Right now, I believe they have, you know, 50 something. So, they’re well short of the votes they need to pass this bill.” Consequently, the fate of school vouchers in Texas remains uncertain, with the opposition showing no signs of relenting.