School Voucher Battle Expected to Erupt in Texas Legislature

Church & State, January 2005 | Go to article overview

School Voucher Battle Expected to Erupt in Texas Legislature


Frustrated voucher proponents in Texas are exploring new avenues to bring taxpayer support for private religious education to the Lone Star State.

For years, voucher bills have been introduced in the state legislature, but none have passed. This year, supporters are ready to try some new tactics to push the idea.

The Houston Chronicle reported Dec. 6 that state Rep. Frank Corte, a San Antonio Republican, has pre-filed a bill that would establish a voucher program in six of the largest school districts in Texas.

Corte says rather than sub]nit the bill as free-standing legislation, he will attempt to attach it as a rider to a larger bill that lawmakers are required to pass. He's thinking of an omnibus measure that finances the Texas Education Agency or some other wide-ranging school-finance legislation.

"We're probably at a better position this term than any time before to try to bring [vouchers] to fruition," Corte told the newspaper. Gov. Rick Perry and several politically powerful business groups in the state support vouchers.

But public education leaders are vowing to block the proposal and say they are willing to match Corte's hardball tactics. Groups that oppose taxpayer funding of private religious schools say they are even willing to risk a shutdown of the state education agency.

"If they get into playing that kind of chicken, we'll play," said Richard Kouri, a lobbyist for the Texas State Teachers Association. …

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