After refusing to respond to media requests for comment, Ector County Representative Brooks Landgraf signaled his clear opposition to the many school choice initiatives currently pending before the Texas Legislator.
Last Thursday, Landgraf joined Democratic legislators to pass Rep. Abel Herrero’s (D-Robstown) amendment to prohibit state dollars from going to school choice programs by a vote of 86 to 52. A solid majority of Republican house members voted against the amendment and it took a small block of Republican members to join with all but one Democrat to pass the amendment.
Odessa Headlines once again sought comment from Landgraf but, as of publication, had received no response.
As previously reported, school choice continues to be a priority legislative item for Governor Gregg Abbott. A day before the vote Abbott made his first appearance on the House floor to personally advocate against the Herrero amendment which read “Money appropriated by this Act may not be used to pay for or support a school voucher, including an education savings account, tax credit scholarship program, or a grant or other similar program through which a child may use state money for nonpublic primary or secondary education.”
While House Democrats were attempting to stop school choice legislation the Texas Senate was debating Senate Bill (SB) 8 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe). SB8 would allow current public school students access to ESAs of up to $8,000 per year but current private school students and homeschoolers would not be allowed to access this funding. In addition, in order to address objections from rural school districts to ESAs, SB8 would reimburse rural school districts with fewer than 20,000 students $10,000 for every student that leaves their district through an ESA.
Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Salado) who chairs the House Public Education Committee voted against the budget amendment and stated “The budget is not the appropriate place to have this debate [over school choice]”.
While the passed budget amendment poses an additional hurdle for school choice proponents, a number of school choice bills will continue to advance and Governor Abbott seems likely to continue to throw his weight behind getting a school choice bill passed this legislature.