Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Voucher program could be among amendments to fiscal matters bills

With just two weeks left in the session and no agreement on funding for public education on the horizon, the Texas House is poised to tackle another controversial school issue that most didn’t see coming: Vouchers.

The State Fiscal Matters bills – SB 1811 and SB 1581 - are scheduled for consideration on the House floor tomorrow and numerous amendments are expected. One of those is likely to be an amendment offered by Rep. Sid Miller that would provide for “grants to reduce state expenditures.”

A group called Texans for Voluntary Taxpayer Savings, Inc. operates the website. It lists 15 groups among its “coalition of supporters” including: Americans for Prosperity, Texas; Texas Public Policy Foundation; Tim Lambert, executive director for the Texas Home School Coalition; the Waco Tea Party; and the Lake Fork Tea Party Patriots.

According to the web site, the program would save the state $2 billion over a biennium by offering the voluntary grants to all parents with children in public schools. The grants would be the full price of tuition at a private school or 60 percent of the state average per-pupil spending ($5,143), whichever is less. The website claims this arrangement would save the state $3,429 for each student that took a grant.

If the proposal became law it would likely be the largest, most encompassing voucher program in the country. Most voucher programs are of a smaller scale and target low-performing schools or low-income children. Florida launched the country’s first statewide voucher program more than a decade ago, but it was plagued with problems and legal challenges. The state Supreme Court invalidated the plan in 2006, saying it violated a constitutional mandate to create a free and uniform public school system.

TASA will vigorously oppose any amendment that comes to the floor that proposes to create a voucher program, even if thinly disguised as a “savings grant.”

We urge our members to contact their legislators and tell them to vote no on any amendment that would create a voucher program and take funding away from already cash-strapped public schools.

Here is a complete list of supporters listed on the webiste:

Americans for Prosperity, Texas
Monsignor Dermott Brosnan, Founder, Patrician Movement
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Institute for Justice
Ministers for Education
Waco Tea Party
Lake Fork Tea Party Patriots
Tim Lambert, Executive Director of the Texas Home School Coalition
The Justice Foundation
JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director, Grassroots America - We the People
Liberty Institute
Conservative Republicans of Texas
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Young Conservatives of Texas
Texas Institute for Education Reform
Bro. Stanley Culotta, CSC, MD-President, Holy Cross of San Antonio
Rosemary Edwards, County Chairman-Travis County Republican Party

No comments:

Post a Comment