Education Savings Accounts Votes Texas House Republicans Against School Choice
State Budget Ban Motion to Table 71-64 Ashby; Clardy; Darby; Dean; Geren; Kacal; Kuempel; Lambert; Rogers; Shine; Smith; VanDeaver
State Budget Ban Amendment 86-52 Allison; Ashby; Bailes; Bell, K.; Burns; Clardy; Darby; Dean; Geren; Holland; Kacal; King, K.; Kuempel; Lambert; Landgraf; Murr; Orr; Price; Raney; Rogers; Shine; Smith; Spiller; VanDeaver
Raney Amendment House Bill 1 83-64 Allison; Bailes; K. Bell; Burns; Clardy; Darby; Dean; Geren; Holland; Kacal; K. King; Kuempel; Lambert; Murr; Price; Raney; Rogers; Shine; Smith; E.Thompson; VanDeaver



Abbott Won't Concede Defeat on ESAs
Despite Failure to Move Needle in House

Capitol Inside
November 19, 2023

Governor Greg Abbott sought to stick a happy face this weekend on the worst and most predictable setback of a long career when he trumpeted a school choice plan in a trio of social media posts that failed to acknowledge that the Texas House killed it Friday night in a vote that wasn't close.

"Today’s vote is just another step on the path to provide school choice for parents and students across Texas," Abbott typed at 9:29 p.m. on Friday in the first post on X after the House buried education savings accounts in an 84-63 vote several hours earlier.

"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," the Republican asserted in message number two on school vouchers at 9:30 p.m. that night. "I am in it to win it."

The state leader's first two messages on X appeared to have been crafted for every possible outcome - win, lose or draw - in advance of the vouchers vote. While Abbott refused to admit that ESA's had bombed badly in the House vote that he and other advocates had demanded, the third post in the series at 9:30 p.m. as well did give a vague hint that something could have gone wrong.

"The vast majority of Texans — and Republicans in the Texas House — support school choice," the governor wrote. "The small minority of pro-union Republicans in the Texas House who voted with Democrats will not derail the outcome that their voters demand."

But that's exactly what they did when the House stripped ESA's from a broader education funding proposal with 21 Republicans joining forces with Democrats in a vote for GOP State Rep. John Raney's amendment that struck the entire article on school choice from House Bill 1. The number of GOP representatives who turned thumbs down on the governor's voucher plan represented exactly 25 percent of 84 Republicans who voted on the Raney alteration on the floor Friday night.

One dozen House Republicans voted initially with the Democrats in the regular session against a motion to torpedo a Democratic state budget amendment that barred the use of public funds on private schools. Two of the original opponents - GOP State Reps. Ernest Bailes of Shepherd and Ken King of Canadian - were absent for the first vote on the budget amendment. That would put the count of hard voucher foes in the majority party at 14 in the west wing. With 63 Democrats, 14 would be the minimum number of Republicans who would be needed to keep ESAs at bay.

But the support in the lower chamber for the school choice proposal turned out to be soft when a total of 24 Republicans voted to tack the vouchers prohibition on to the appropriations bill. Abbott would need to turn at least nine of the soft votes to ban ESAs during the current special session - the fourth that he's called so far this year. He didn't come close - however - when 21 Republicans helped Democrats take down the school choice plan in the House on Friday night.

Four House Republicans who voted for the state budget ban in the spring - State Reps. Trent Ashby of Lufkin, Brooks Landgraf of Odessa, Angelia Orr of Itasca and David Spiller of Jacksboro - flipped to the Abbott's side for the vote this weekend. GOP State Rep. Ed Thompson of Pearland voted for the Raney amendment after supporting the motion to kill the budget prohibition. That's a net gain of three for the governor compared to the second state budget vote when two dozen Republicans said no to vouchers.

Abbott would have to call at least four more special sessions if he could manage to pick up three GOP votes in the House for ESAs in each separate gathering.

Every one of the Republicans who voted to kill ESAs had heard Abbott's promises of retribution in the 2024 primary election. None appeared to take the governor's threats of primary challenges seriously or simply didn't care what he said. All had heard Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Abbott and others crowing on polls that showed huge support for school choice among almost every possible demographic.

Patrick berated the House Republicans who proved to be an insurmountable roadblock on ESAs in the fourth special session that Abbott has called so far in 2023.

"These members apparently think their own view is more important than the views of their voters, of which over 80 percent of Republicans support school choice, along with the majority of independents, and many Democrats," Patrick argued on X on Friday night.

The House Republicans who spurned school choice with votes for the Raney amendment will argue that they were simply representing their individual districts.

more to come ...







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