Updated 11 a.m. Nov. 20

The Texas House is not expected to reconsider House Bill 1 during the current special legislative session after Democrats and 21 Republicans voted to strip the bill of education savings accounts Nov. 17. House Public Education Chair Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, told reporters he did not intend to hold another committee hearing on the $7.6 billion proposal.

Gov. Greg Abbott has pressed lawmakers all year to approve education savings accounts, a voucher-like proposal that would give families public funds to pay for private education. The House has repeatedly rejected this type of legislation, but Abbott vowed to keep fighting.

"I will continue advancing school choice in the Texas Legislature and at the ballot box, and will maintain the fight for parent empowerment until all parents can choose the best education path for their child," Abbott said in a statement to Community Impact. "I am in it to win it."

At a Nov. 17 news conference, Rep. James Talarico, D-Austin, called on the governor to "finally support a clean school finance bill that actually fully funds our schools, that actually gives teachers the pay raise that they deserve and actually helps our students."Updated 5:15 p.m. Nov. 17

Texas House Public Education Chair Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Kileen, has sent his sweeping education proposal, House Bill 1, back to committee. It is unclear if the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment will meet to continue discussing the bill after lawmakers voted Nov. 17 to remove education savings accounts, a voucher-like proposal.

The House is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. Nov. 21.
Original story posted 4:14 p.m. Nov. 17

A coalition of Texas House Democrats and rural Republicans has rejected a plan to help families pay for private schools.

With an 84-63 vote Nov. 17, House lawmakers approved an amendment that cut education savings accounts, a voucher-like program, from the lower chamber’s sweeping education proposal, House Bill 1. Twenty-one Republicans voted in favor of the amendment by Rep. John Raney, R-College Station.

“I believe in my heart that using taxpayer dollars to fund an entitlement program is not conservative and it’s bad public policy,” Raney said.

Midlothian Republican Rep. Brian Harrison, who voted against the amendment, said it was “the most cynical, disingenuous and anti-parent amendment in the Texas House.”

Giving parents public money to send their children to private schools is a top priority of Gov. Greg Abbott, but Democrats and rural Republicans have historically blocked efforts to approve the plan in the House. Nov. 17 is the first time a voucher proposal reached the House floor this year.

HB 1 would invest billions of dollars in public education funding, including a $540 boost to the basic allotment, or the base amount of money schools receive per student. The bill would raise the allotment from $6,160 to $6,700 and ensure it is adjusted for inflation every two years.

The bill also proposes a $4,000 one-time bonus for full-time public school teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses. Schools would be expected to use the increased basic allotment to provide the salary increases in future years, according to bill author Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen.

But Abbott, a Republican, previously said he would not sign HB 1 without vouchers and vowed to call lawmakers back to the Texas Capitol to keep working on his plan.

“I would just have to veto it and we would start all over again,” Abbott told reporters at a Nov. 10 news conference. “We’d be spending December here, maybe January here, maybe February here. And I know one thing about both the House and Senate—they want to get out of here.”

The chamber is expected to vote on the full bill later Nov. 17. If House lawmakers approve HB 1 with the school funding portions alone, it is likely dead on arrival in the Senate. State senators passed their own voucher and school funding programs, SB 1 and SB 2, earlier this month.