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Texas House Avoids Voucher Vote in Budget Debate

The Texas House was poised to take a vote banning private school vouchers as it adopted the state budget Tuesday. But about nine hours into the debate, the lawmaker carrying the measure withdrew it from consideration.

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The Texas House was poised to take a vote Tuesday on banning private school vouchers as it took up the state budget. But about nine hours into the budget debate, the lawmaker carrying the measure withdrew it from consideration.

State Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, said in an interview on the House floor that his amendment had become a “moot point” as a result of earlier votes the chamber had taken to increase funding to public schools.

“The House has already shown it has overwhelming support for public education,” he said in an interview on the House floor.

Herrero’s comments came after several senators — including Education Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood — were seen talking to lawmakers in the chamber.

His measure, which would have prohibited the use of state dollars to fund private education for students in elementary through high schools, faced a flurry of last-minute opposition.

Leading up to Tuesday's debate, Americans for Prosperity's Texas branch gave notice to lawmakers that the vote on the amendment, which they called "anti-parent and anti-student," would be on their scorecard. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler sent a letter to GOP lawmakers in the House urging them to vote against Herrero’s amendment, describing “deep support for school choice in the Republican Party.”

Mechler also noted that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had made the issue a priority for the legislative session. 

If the House had approved the measure, it would have delivered a blow to the Houston Republican, who has set his sights on passing legislation that would provide state financial support to parents who want to send their children to private schools.

During the 2013 legislative session, the House overwhelmingly passed a similar budget amendment amid a similar push from Patrick, a former state senator who was education chairman at the time.

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