The Republican-led Texas House of Representatives voted to remove a controversial provision from an education omnibus bill, House Bill 1, that aimed to create a school voucher-like program for the state.
The provision would have established education savings accounts (ESAs), providing qualifying students with $10,500 annually for private or parochial school tuition and other education-related expenses. The bill also included funding for school safety measures and increased per-pupil funding. However, an amendment led by Rep. John Raney removed the ESAs from the bill, with over a dozen Republicans and bipartisan support.
The 84-63 vote to eliminate ESAs is likely to impact other provisions in HB 1, including salary raises for teachers. Governor Abbott had expressed that he would not sign education legislation without teacher salary increases. The debate around the voucher-like program has divided Republicans, with some expressing concerns about the use of taxpayer dollars for such entitlement programs.
School choice, particularly voucher systems, have been popped up across the country, especially in red states. However, Texas has been particularly unreceptive to the idea.