Amended Texas Senate bill revives school voucher debate

Gov. Greg Abbott’s threat to call a special legislative session has state senators trying to work out a school voucher program.

It would give parents thousands of dollars each year to put toward their child’s education.

Gov. Abbott and other Republicans have been pushing for school vouchers for years without getting a bill through the legislature.

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The proposal is getting yet another chance, but the end of the current legislative session is rapidly approaching.

On Monday the Texas Senate Committee on Education will hear testimony on an amended version of House Bill 100.

FILE-Image of an empty classroom at an elementary school. (Photo By: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

According to the Texas Tribune, the bill would give parents who choose not to enroll their kids in public schools up to $8,000 per year for each of their children.

The money could be spent on tuition and other private school expenses.

The same bill would give the public school system a substantial boost in funding -- $4.5 billion.

This would help districts meet their expectations as inflation has reduced what they’re able to purchase under current funding levels.

Earlier in the legislative session, there was a similar Senate bill to establish a voucher system with the same promise of $8,000 per student. But that bill died in a House committee.

A coalition of Democrats and rural Republicans have opposed vouchers on the grounds they will divert taxpayer money away from public schools.

To try and overcome that opposition, Gov. Abbott has indicated that if a voucher-like program doesn’t pass in this regular legislative session, he would then call lawmakers into a special session.

The regular session is set to wrap up next Monday.