Dec 5, 2023 - News

School voucher push fails in Texas, for now

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The push in Texas to give some families taxpayer money for private education and homeschooling has failed after two special sessions devoted to the matter.

  • An effort to increase funding for public schools also failed.

Driving the news: The year's fourth special session, which spanned 29 days, concluded on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Gov. Greg Abbott appears no closer to getting his marquee "school choice" legislation passed than at the start of the year — and another special session could risk alienating lawmakers tired of being in Austin.

  • The issue is likely to come up again in the next election cycle and the 2025 legislative session, Texas Tribune reports.

State of play: As the effort lagged during the regular session, Abbott threatened to call lawmakers back to Austin for multiple special sessions until they approved education savings accounts, which would give some families state money to pay for private schooling.

Catch up fast: Abbott listed the issue as a priority for the third special session and called for a fourth session as Democrats and rural Republicans opposed the idea.

  • The school vouchers proposal failed again this special session, despite being grouped in with a massive education funding bill offering teacher pay raises and increased public school funding.

The intrigue: "If you told me in January that the Texas Rangers would finally win the World Series in 2023 but that the Texas Legislature would not figure out how to increase funding for teachers and school safety, I would not have believed you," Dallas ISD superintendent Stephanie Elizalde tells Axios.

  • The governor's office didn't respond to Axios' request for comment on Tuesday.

What we're watching: Whether Abbott will call a fifth special session and try, again, to get the school vouchers program passed.

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