The Senate, headed by Patrick, easily passed the 2017 education savings account bill, but the measure never made it out of the House. The House Committee on Public Education had members who were staunchly against any “school choice” legislation, who clashed with state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, then-chair of the committee and who was historically against “school choice” policies.
This session, it’s unclear if another political fight may be brewing between the two chambers.
At first glance, the leaders of both public education committees seem to be at odds. The Senate Committee on Education chair, state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, is a supporter of school choice legislation, while the new chair of the House Committee on Public Education, state Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, voted for an anti-voucher amendment to the House budget last session. The House committee has several other members that voted for that same anti-voucher amendment.
But the Texas Public Policy Foundation — one of the biggest advocacy groups for “school choice” — praised Buckley’s appointment shortly after it was announced. And in an interview with the TV station KXAN, House Speaker Dade Phelan said his education committee assignments don’t mean the discussion over sending taxpayer dollars to private schools is dead.
“The appointment of that committee was not reflective of that. There’s members who are interested in having those discussions,” he said. “It’s going to come down to whether or not it has the votes in the Texas House, and [in] the past [it] has not.”
Buckley did not address “school choice” in a statement on his appointment, only saying that he looks "forward to working with members of the committee and my colleagues in the Texas House to craft policy to provide the best opportunities for Texas teachers, students and their families."
Lawmakers who support voucher-like programs will also have to convince rural lawmakers to their side. Rural communities and lawmakers usually oppose “school choice” legislation because there aren’t many private schools in their region. They have been traditionally defensive of their schools, which serve as important community hubs and are usually among the biggest employers in their regions.
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