We reported during school choice week about a handful of voucher proposals on the move around the country. One of those bills was a Tennessee private school voucher bill that passed out of a House committee in late January and was sitting in the Tennessee House waiting for consideration. At the time, the bill seemed greased to become law, but late last week the bill was taken off the table after proponents realized it didn’t have the votes to pass.
Just before the bill was expected to be debated and passed on the Tennessee House floor, the bill’s author announced that it would be removed from consideration. He later explained that he didn’t have the votes to pass the legislation and didn’t expect there to be enough momentum to bring it back in the future.
The ability of public school supporters to beat the Tennessee voucher bill is a reminder of what is at stake in Texas as we head to the polls for the primary election. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has never hesitated to express his strong support for privatization in Texas and recently reminded a pro-privatization crowd that school choice will be one of his top priorities for the 2017 legislative session. He “vowed to pass a bigger and better tax credit scholarship program — and possibly other school choice legislation — out of the Senate in 2017,” according to a Texas Tribune article posted last month.
The Senate under the control of Lt. Gov. Patrick successfully passed a voucher bill out of their chamber during the 2015 Texas legislative session. That bill ultimately failed to move in the House, but it garnered 18 votes in the Senate (12 senators voted in opposition). You can find out how your senator voted by checking out his profile using our 2016 Races search page.
Before last session, voters had elected enough anti-voucher legislators to narrowly defeat vouchers in both chambers, but when the makeup of the Senate changed in 2014, vouchers crept closer to passage. That is why it is critical that we continue to vote pro-public education candidates into office. In order to continue to keep vouchers out of Texas, we need to elect members to the legislature who will oppose all forms of privatization. ATPE strongly encourages you to use Teach the Vote to research the candidates in your area and vote for the pro-public education candidate(s) who will help ensure vouchers have no place in Texas.