U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is wading deeper into the school choice battle at the Texas Capitol.
Cruz, who does not often weigh in on specific legislation in Austin, sent a letter to every fellow Republican in the Texas House and Senate on Thursday urging them to make Texas the next state that gives parents taxpayer dollars to send their children to private or religious schools, or educate them at home.
"There is no political, social, policy or moral excuse for delaying what Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Nevada and many other states have already done," wrote Cruz according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Tribune. "Pass a school choice program now that allows parents to design an education that is best for their children."
Cruz's letter comes at a particularly challenging time for school choice supporters, who expect to win passage in the Senate, where the issue is a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but are seeing growing resistance in the House. State Rep. Dan Huberty, the Houston Republican who chairs the House Public Education Committee, said last month he views school choice as dead on arrival in the lower chamber.
In the past, Cruz has resisted getting involved in legislative battles in Austin — which is why it was notable when he went out of his way earlier this year to urge state lawmakers to tackle school choice. "I could not encourage state legislators more to take up this issue, to show courage and to empower our kids," Cruz said at a conference in January hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank.
In the letter delivered Thursday, Cruz offered more detail on his school choice views, making clear he supports Education Savings Accounts, a key part of the most prominent school choice bill making its way through the Senate. The accounts would give parents state-issued debit cards to be used for private school tuition.