Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new proclamation to expand the scope of the ongoing special session after negotiations with the stalled House of Representatives.
As reported by The Dallas Express, despite popular support for school choice, the leadership in the Texas House refused to advance legislation on it until more taxpayer money was allocated for government-run schools.
In order to overcome the deadlock, Abbott proclaimed that lawmakers could consider “Legislation relating to primary and secondary education, including the establishment of an education savings program, the certification, compensation, and health coverage of certain public school employees, the public school finance system, special education in public schools, measures to support the education of public school students,” and more.
Additionally, “Legislation related to school safety measures and related state funding mechanisms” can also be considered.
Gov. Abbott further explained in a statement received by The Dallas Express, “Working with Speaker Phelan and his House leadership team, the Speaker and I reached an agreement on school choice for Texas families, and I am expanding the agenda for Special Session #3.”
“The legislation will create an Education Savings Accounts program with universal eligibility for all Texas schoolchildren and will be entirely voluntary for families and schools to participate,” he continued.
Diving into specifics, Abbott noted, “Participating students will be eligible for approximately $10,400 per year in their Education Savings Account, administered by an education organization overseen by the Texas Comptroller on behalf of the parents and students participating in the program.”
In exchange for the school choice bills, “We will also provide billions more in public education funding to boost Texas’ top-notch public school system, including teacher pay raises, while staying within the constitutional spending limit.”
“This bill will codify recommendations made by the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, the Commission on Virtual Education, and the Commission on Special Education Funding. Importantly, the STAAR Test will be phased out to be replaced with an improved assessment system,” the governor remarked.
“This is the next step in the legislative process to deliver school choice to Texas parents and students who deserve the freedom to choose the education that best fits their learning needs,” Abbott concluded. “I look forward to working with both chambers of the Texas Legislature on getting this legislation to my desk to sign into law.”
However, the House has failed to meet quorum for the past several days due to members not showing up. This means that the chamber is unable to conduct business.
Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth) remarked, “The Governor expands the call to include additional public school funding, and yet most Democrats didn’t show up to work, so we can’t even accept the Governor’s call.”
Some Democrats mocked Abbott’s expanded call, with Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston) saying, “Why don’t you make up your mind… Do we have top-notch education or not?”
“YOU and the Trumpers have been pushing vouchers scams saying public education is failing and teachers are indoctrinating kids,” he added. “Can’t keep the lies together, huh?”