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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 10, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 11/10/2023

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

CALL TO ACTION: House Bill (HB) 1, which would provide a voucher of approximately $10,500 per student to both those leaving public schools and those who already attend private schools, advanced out of committee and will go to the House floor for a vote next week. Your representative needs to hear from public educators about the potential harm this new multi-billion-dollar government entitlement would bring to Texas taxpayers and the state budget. Read more about HB 1 below.

We ask that you urge your representative to vote NO on any bill containing a voucher.

Contact your House member

SPECIAL SESSION: The third special session wrapped up Tuesday, Nov. 7, with public education advocates holding steady on their opposition to vouchers, one of Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) top priority bills. The governor issued his proclamation for the fourth special session to begin at 5 p.m. the same day. This is the first time in the Texas Legislature's history that a fourth special session has been called during a legislative year.

NOV. 7 ELECTION: Election Day was Tuesday, Nov. 7, and Texas voters approved 13 of the 14 constitutional amendments on the ballot.

ATPE-supported Proposition 9, which authorizes a cost-of-living adjustment for certain Teacher Retirement System (TRS) annuitants, was approved by approximately 84% of voters. Proposition 13, which would have increased the mandatory retirement age for state judges and justices from 75 to 79, was rejected by voters by a nearly two-thirds margin.

House District (HD) 2 will hold a runoff election after no candidate received 50% or more of the vote. The winner will replace Bryan Slaton, who was expelled in May for inappropriate behavior. Republicans Brent Money and Jill Dutton will vie for the HD 2 seat in the runoff, which has yet to be scheduled. 

ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins recaps the election results in this blog post

HB 1: The Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment met yesterday, Nov. 9, to consider House Bill (HB) 1 by Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado), which is the latest iteration of the school voucher legislation that has been pushed during each legislative session this year. HB 1 includes a voucher in the form of an Education Savings Account (ESA), a plan to increase public school funding, and other measures such as expansion of virtual education. The committee heard approximately 10 hours of testimony on the bill. The majority of invited witnesses—including superintendents, special education and disability advocates, and school board trustees, public testifiers, and those submitting written remarks through the House public comment system—remained steadfast in their opposition to the voucher.

The bill was left pending in committee Thursday and advanced this morning, Nov. 10, with a 10-4 vote. Several of the committee members voting to move the bill forward have expressed opposition to vouchers, but also a willingness to let the entire House weigh in on the legislation.

ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave covers Thursday's hearing here and Friday's hearing here.

ILLINOIS VOUCHER PROGRAM: Illinois has become the first state to roll back its school voucher program. The Illinois House has adjourned until January 2024 without passing an extension to the state’s voucher law. The Invest in Kids program, a tax credit scholarship, diverted up to $75 million each year from the state budget that could have gone to Illinois' underfunded public schools.

TEA: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has adopted an amendment to §97.1001 and the repeal of §97.1005 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), concerning accountability and performance monitoring. Read more here.


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