Texas Republicans Turn Against Governor Abbott?

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

(FixThisNation.com) – Governor Greg Abbott’s initiative to establish a school voucher program in Texas has hit a roadblock as he finds himself without the support of his own party members in the state legislature. Despite calling legislators back for a third special session focused on passing his education savings account proposal, Abbott has not been able to rally sufficient support. The idea was to allow parents to use public tax dollars to send their children to private or religious schools, bypassing public education.

As the special session stretches on, Abbott is contending with a dual resistance: a cohesive Democratic opposition and 24 Republican legislators primarily from rural areas. Although the House introduced a pared-down voucher program intended to also enhance public education, the governor dismissed it as inadequate, insisting on a separate, standalone bill.

Describing his initiative as offering “school choice” to families in Texas, Abbott remains committed to his mission. He has even threatened to convene a fourth special session and endorse Republican candidates who align with his educational vision. The ongoing special session is slated to close on November 7.

At a town hall meeting last month, Abbott stressed the urgency of his agenda. He indicated that failure in the first special session would only lead to additional ones, with the ultimate aim of providing voters an option during primaries.

However, his party colleagues from rural districts have expressed serious concerns. They argue that diverting funds toward an education savings account would cripple public schools, which are crucial to their communities. The counterargument is that such policies could potentially deplete public school enrollments and consequently their funding, thus undermining the educational quality available to students in these institutions.

Interestingly, the drive for broadening ‘school choice’ picked up steam during the pandemic era, as parents grew increasingly unhappy with school policies during the move to online education. Although Abbott has indicated a willingness to discuss boosting public school funding separately, no substantial increase has been seen since 2019. Meanwhile, the state Senate refused to allocate Texas’ $33 billion surplus for educational spending unless tied to a school voucher scheme, leaving many public school districts financially strained.

Republican state Representative Ken King encapsulated the sentiment of many when he accused the Governor and the Senate of using school children as “political hostages,” stating that their actions were “inexcusable.” Despite repeated attempts during the regular legislative session, Abbott’s push for an educational savings account has been thwarted not once, but twice by the House.

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