It is awesome to share these news that Gov. Abbott's cherished HB 1 voucher bill just failed in Texas' fourth special-called legislative session, demonstrating that this is less about party than it is about the quality of this policy for our state. In total, vouchers have been defeated in a total of 5 Texas legislative sessions this year—once, in the regular, and four times across four special legislative sessions.
Here is today's vote breakdown on the Rep. John Raney (R-College Station) amendment that killed vouchers:
Total Nays 63 = 42.2% of the House
Total Yeas 84 = 56.3% of the House
D’s - 63 of 64 = 98.4% (Munoz absent)
R’s - 63 of 84 R’s = 75% (Phelan non-vote & Slaton vacant seat)
21 R’s + 63 D’s = 84 TOTAL votes defeats vouchers
Even now, Gov. Abbott is demonstrating no apparent limit. A Facebook colleague of mine, Carmen Guzman, reminded me recently of an important statement in a recent Texas Tribune piece titled, Texas' part-time Legislature has been at it all year. Now they're heading into a rare fourth special session as follows:
"Special sessions also are not without a cost to taxpayers. A full 30-day session amounts to about $1.2 million in per diem payments to lawmakers, which are meant to cover their expenses in Austin. Per diems are currently set at $221 a day — a payment that is in addition to their base salary of $7,200 a year."
What a waste of tax payer dollars to meet one man's agenda. As our legislature meets biennially, meaning every other year, it also presents a hardship for poorly-paid legislators who need to support their families, run their businesses, attend weddings and baptisms and so on so that they can sacrifice their time and efforts for the regular legislative sessions held on odd-numbered years. That is, the 89th regular session of the Texas State Legislature kicks off in January, 2025. The interim period is also helpful in preparing for the regular session.
In sum, Gov. Abbott has been a terrible steward of our precious, hard-earned tax dollars especially considering our continuing need for increasing teachers' salaries and a need for more resources for Texas public schools.
Hats off to Dr. Chloe Sikes and the impassioned members of the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition that consists of around 34 organizational members. Jaime Puente and Luis Figueroa with Every Texan also played decisive roles. With a coalition this large of which I am also a part, there are many individuals and organizations—too many to name—that merit mention.
For now a Thanksgiving holiday break. Fingers crossed that support for public education actually occurs in the not-so-distant future.
We also have to re-focus our efforts on the Governor's anti-Constitutional SB 4 that racially profiles individuals and criminalizes immigrants.
Our local schools remain the bedrock of our fragile democracy. It's way past time to give them the funding they need and deserve.
Note: The House and Senate stand in recess until next Tuesday, November 21 at 10am.
Happy holidays, everybody!