Plan to let Texas parents use public funds to pay for private schools gets preliminary approval

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The plan to let Texas parents use public funds to pay for private schools cleared a key hurdle Thursday evening.

Senate Bill 1 would allocate $500 million toward the creation of an education savings account program, which was the primary education policy request on Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda for this third special session.

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The funding comes from Texas’ general revenue and would be available for eligible pre-K through 12 school-aged children. Families of eligible students would receive $8,000 each year that they are enrolled in the program in an account. In order to qualify, they must have attended public school within the last year or are about to enter pre-K or kindergarten for the first time.

Texas Senators gave preliminary approval to a bill to establish an Education Savings Account program.

Opponents earlier this week expressed concern that creating such a program will take away funding from public schools, which are accountable to the legislature. The bill’s author, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, said he believes that the packages would work in tandem, not against one another.

The vote went mostly along party lines — 18 Republicans voted yes, one Republican and all 12 Democrats voted no.

However, senators did make a few amendments to the bill.

An amendment by Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, would prevent the children of state lawmakers from benefiting from the ESA program won approval with bipartisan support.


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