Gov. Greg Abbott says he has enough votes after election to pass school voucher program

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Primary election wins give Abbott votes needed to pass school vouchers
After Tuesday's primary election, Texas Gov.Greg Abbott has enough votes to pass a voucher program that would send students to private schools.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott is declaring victory after Tuesday's primary election, announcing that the Texas legislature now has enough votes to pass a program using taxpayer money to send students to private schools.

The governor has made his school voucher plan one of his signature issues and has spent millions of dollars of his own campaign funds to defeat candidates who oppose it.

"What's really interesting in Texas is that for the last 25 years, we've ratcheted up the accountability, we've put an A-F rating system in schools, the traditional school system, so we have really high standards and really high accountability systems, but this $8,000 would go to a private school that is not required to do the state test and really has no rating system and very little accountability," Duncan Klussman, an assistant professor at the University of Houston and the former superintendent of Spring Branch ISD, explained.

Teachers groups have overwhelmingly opposed school vouchers, and so have lawmakers from rural areas, saying the policy will lead to falling enrollment, which then leads to falling funding for public schools.

"If you look at Cy-Fair right now, they're facing an almost $140 million deficit, and this could potentially make it worse. We expect that there would probably be more program cuts. They may be losing librarians like Spring Branch and others," Zeph Capo, the president of the Texas AFT, explained.

But, Abbott has been pushing for a private school voucher program for years, even keeping public school funding off his agenda until it passes.

Although his office did not answer ABC13's questions on Wednesday, Abbott promised to pass the program by next year.

As of now, it appears he will have the votes to do so.

"Certainly, the governor has what is likely to be a more friendly legislature to him going into the next session," Monty Exter, the director of Governmental Relations with the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said. "What it means exactly for any particular agenda item, including vouchers, it's a long time yet."

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