With just days left in the third special legislative session of the year, proposals to increase funding for Texas public schools and create a program to help families pay for private education are likely dead.

Killeen Republican Rep. Brad Buckley, the chair of the Texas House Public Education Committee, told reporters it was “too tight” for lawmakers to pass an education bill during the current special legislative session.

“The House has rules, and we’re up against the timeline,” Buckley said Nov. 1, minutes after the House wrapped up for the week.

Nov. 7 is the last day lawmakers can send legislation from the current session to the governor’s desk.

What you need to know

Creating education savings accounts, a voucher-like program that would give families taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition, is one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priorities. Lawmakers have made little progress on the plan this year, due to bipartisan opposition in the House.

Abbott expressed optimism about vouchers during a news conference the morning of Nov. 1, telling reporters he expected the House would file a new education bill that day.

“We are on track to ensure there will not be another special session,” Abbott said.

The governor also expanded the special session agenda Oct. 31 to include increased funding for public schools and raises for teachers, two issues pushed by House lawmakers.

The backstory

The Texas Senate passed a bill Oct. 12 that would give eligible students $8,000 per year to cover private school tuition, books, tutoring, transportation and other education expenses. Low-income families and students with disabilities would be prioritized through the program.

But Buckley told reporters Nov. 1 the House would not approve the Senate’s proposal.

“We’ll have a House plan,” Buckley said.

Other voucher bills have failed in the House due to a lack of support from Democrats and some rural Republicans. Rep. Ernest Bailes, R-Shepherd, said Oct. 31 a voucher program would “without a doubt” harm public schools in his community, which does not have any private schools.

“In my rural area, public education is the only avenue that most kids have to get out of a cycle of poverty and to excel and better their lives,” Bailes said. “So [if] we work against that, essentially, we're working against our kids in the state of Texas.”

Stay tuned

House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, told members they would return Nov. 6 or 7 to act on two immigration bills currently in the Senate. Phelan did not mention any education-related legislation.

Abbott has threatened to call a fourth special session to tackle private school vouchers.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Community Impact.