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Will Voucher Defeat Hurt Texas School Finance Fix?

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AUSTIN (AP) — The Texas House all but buried school vouchers. Could the Senate do the same with the school finance fix?

After the Senate approved a sweeping bill offering taxpayer funds to private and religious schools, the House overwhelmingly passed language in its version of the state budget forbidding the practice — likely killing state-subsidized "school choice."

On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to approve a $1.6 billion bill altering how Texas pays for its public schools. It raises per-student funding by about $200 to $5,350 a year and increases money for educating students with dyslexia while tweaking the current "Robin Hood" system under which school districts in wealthy parts of Texas share property tax revenue with those in poorer areas.

The bill's sponsor, Houston Republican Rep. Dan Huberty, says it's not a full school finance overhaul but will lay the groundwork for larger changes that must be made in coming years. Huberty heads the House Public Education Committee and said even before the budget vote against vouchers that he considered state subsidized school choice a non-starter.

But if his bill clears his own chamber it will go to Republican Sen. Larry Taylor of Friendswood, who heads the Senate Education Committee. Taylor worked long and hard shepherding the school choice bill through the Senate and expressed disappointment that the House scuttled the issue without even considering his bill.

Taylor hasn't said if he'll ensure that Huberty's school finance bill never makes it out of his committee. Asked about such differing classroom priorities between the two chambers, meanwhile, Huberty said he can't control what happens in the Senate but hoped his proposal will advance because Texas' outdated school finance system so badly needs improving.

Since the Texas Supreme Court ruled last summer that while deeply flawed, the school finance system is minimally constitutional, though, no legislative fix is required.

So, the major bill the House will spend hours passing this week could be all for naught — just like the Senate's voucher bill before it.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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