Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Perry: Voucher Fight Won't End with Session

May 25, 2005, 11:05AM

Perry: Voucher Fight Won't End with Session

Governor admits the issue is dead for now, but says it's misunderstood
Associated Press

AUSTIN - Lamenting the defeat of private school vouchers this legislative session, Gov. Rick Perry predicted Tuesday that voucher proponents will renew their fight in two years.

While a voucher plan is "probably done for the session," which ends Monday, proponents will keep up the fight in Texas, Perry said.

"I suspect as long as there are children who are in need of getting some relief in failing schools that it will always be out there and be promoted by a number of Texans," he said.

Amid volatile House debate, legislation that would have allowed limited state-funded private school vouchers collapsed late Monday. The plan would have used taxpayer money for private school tuition for some economically disadvantaged students in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

Lawmakers are trying to find more money for public schools and work out a new school funding system before the Legislature adjourns. Texas is under court order to change its school funding method or risk a school shutdown by October.

The next regular legislative session doesn't convene until January 2007.

Perry said he thinks the voucher issue is misunderstood.

"I don't understand why people are afraid of letting these children and their parents have a choice," he said.

Perry noted he has pushed for a pilot school voucher program since he was lieutenant governor in 1999.

One of Perry's major campaign contributors, San Antonio businessman James Leininger, is a supporter of private school vouchers. Last year, Leininger was among those who went on a trip with the Republican governor and some of his aides to the Bahamas over Presidents Day weekend.

The House voucher proposal died on a technicality after several close votes on measures that changed the original intent of the plan that was included in Senate Bill 422.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- | Section: Local & State
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