FROM AP:

A standoff between Texas’ Republican-majority House and Senate over a modest voucher program has killed an ambitious, bipartisan $1.6 billion school finance plan.

The House previously passed a school finance package increasing annual, per-student funding as well as spending for school transportation and educating dyslexic students.

But the Senate reduced the plan to about half its worth and offered some special education students vouchers, which allow for using state funding to attend private schools.

The House on Wednesday rejected those changes and voted to convene a conference committee to seek compromise before the legislative session ends Monday. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate, responded by declaring the bill dead.

Last year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled the school finance system barely constitutional _ though deeply flawed.

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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick issued the following statement on HB21:

AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement today following the Texas House rejection of House Bill 21 — the $530 million school funding plan:

“I am appalled that the Texas House turned down an additional half-billion dollars for public schools simply because it included a program that might allow some disabled child somewhere in Texas to attend a private school that his parents believe would be better for him or her. The House members who voted against HB 21 ignored the needs of disabled children to take a stand against school choice, which is supported by a strong majority of Texans in every demographic group and both political parties. Instead of supporting those Texans, those House members buckled under the demands of education bureaucrats.

“Although Texas House leaders have been obstinate and closed-minded on this issue throughout this session, I was hopeful when we put this package together last week that we had found an opening that would break the logjam. I simply did not believe they would vote against both disabled children and a substantial funding increase for public schools.

“I was wrong. House Bill 21 is now dead.”

House Bill 21 contained the following components:

  • $200 million for ASATR
  • $200 million new money for the Foundation School Program
  • $100 million for fast growth schools and charter schools for facility funding.
  • The bill included Education Savings Accounts for children with disabilities.
  • Upon passage by the House, the official start date for A through F would be pushed back until 2019, making the 2018 scores another sample year.

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EARLIER:

Texas House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, has rejected the Senate’s plan to scale back a proposal to pump $1.6 billion into public schools. The Senate reduced the plan to about $500 million and tacked on a voucher measure offering some special education students public money to attend private schools.

 

The House’s original plan would have been a major overhaul for the state’s school finance system, increasing annual, per-student funding and pumping more money into school transportation and educating dyslexic students.

 

On Wednesday, the House voted 134-15 to request a conference committee with the Senate to try to reach a compromise.

 

The House has repeatedly rejected vouchers. Rep. Huberty has said the standoff over school finance and vouchers could doom both this session. But in an impassioned speech on the House floor, he told his colleagues he’d continue to try to pass school finance reforms in the final few days.

 

“Members, some of your schools will be forced to close in the next year based on the committee substitute for House Bill 21,” Huberty said. “I refuse to give up. I’ll continue trying. Let’s at least attempt to rescue this bill.”

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling

 

Watch Capital Tonight at 7pm for more on this developing story.

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