AUSTIN (CBS News Texas) - The taxpayer-financed education savings accountsFriday were part of a much larger education bill that would have also given school districts more money and teachers a pay raise.
As a result, the House legislation is in doubt, and two separate education bills that passed in the Senate last week will likely not go anywhere in the House.
The author of the nearly 200-page HB 1, Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Salado, sent it back to committee, where it will likely die.
Here's what remains in the measure:
- A $4,000 bonus for full-time educators and additional pay raises afterwards
- Increases in funding for school districts per student, from $6,160 to $6,700.
What's out is the provision that would have provided taxpayer subsidies of $10,500 per student per year to help pay for private school.
Lower-income and disabled students would have been favored.
While Democrats are united against this, Republicans in the House remain divided.
Rep. Glenn Rogers, R-Graford, voted against education savings accounts, or ESA's.
He said on the House floor Friday, "I have nothing against private schools or home schools. I just have a problem with taking taxpayer dollars and sending it to private schools with no accountability."
Rep. Brian Harrison, R-Waxahachie, supported the ESA's.
During Friday's debate he said, "An overwhelming majority of Texas and especially Texas parents want the chance to take their unique beautiful and individual child and put them in the education setting that is best for their child."
This is a big loss for Gov. Greg Abbott, who has campaigned for education savings accounts across the state all year.
In a statement following the House vote he said, "I will continue advancing school choice in the Texas legislature and at the ballot box.. I am in it to win it. The small minority of pro-union Republicans in the Texas House who voted with Democrats will not derail the outcome that their voters demand."
Sen. Ted Cruz, who's up for re-election, told CBS News Texas last month that he's very focused on this issue when deciding whether to endorse Republicans. "I have my team prepare an XL spread sheet to see every vote a state Representative or State Senator has cast on school choice."
Cruz said if Republicans voted for taxpayer funded education savings accounts, he'll support them. "But if you haven't if you voted against school choice, the chances of my supporting you are essentially zero."
He said he'll endorse their primary opponent instead.
State Rep. Justin Holland, R-Heath, who opposed education savings accounts, said he's proud of his record. "I will have to run on this, but the way I look at it, I've never been for a voucher. People move to this area of the state for their exemplary schools and even in a broken and fragmented accountability system, my school districts are getting A's and so, I have a lot of support."
Abbott said last week that if his school choice policy didn't pass, he may bring lawmakers back for a fifth special session in December and if necessary, additional sessions in January and February.
Lawmakers don't want to be at the Texas Capitol then.
They'd rather be back in their home districts so they can campaign for their primary elections which take place in March.
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