AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas.com) — One of Governor Greg Abbott's top legislative priorities—school choice—during the third special session may not cross the political finish line.
The special session is nearing an end with the last day being Nov. 7, and so far, bills to provide taxpayer-financed education savings accounts for students to go to a private school remain at a standstill.
The pressure is on Republicans in the House, where some rural Republicans have previously joined Democrats to block this legislation.
Republican State Representative David Spiller of Jacksboro told CBS News Texas that it's looking less likely the Texas House will pass the governor's signature school choice bill.
The only House bill filed that would provide taxpayer money to help families send their kids to private school would also boost state funding for public schools and give teachers a raise.
But Gov. Abbott hasn't included money for school districts and teacher raises on the agenda during this third special session.
The bill passed by the Senate weeks ago, SB 1, is very different and hasn't been referred to a House committee to consider it. "Unless and until the governor amends that call, that bill can't be referred. So, you've got Senate Bill 1 that I don't believe is going to go anywhere. You've got the House bill that can't go anywhere."
When asked if he thought any school choice bill would pass, Spiller said, "Not during this session, unless something changes significantly."
Gov. Abbott has said if school choice doesn't pass this session, he'll call a fourth special session.
Republican State Representative Matt Shaheen of Plano told CBS News Texas that he supports school choice and agrees it's looking more and more likely it won't pass now. "The chances of this taking another special session are likely."
Shaheen said he believes a bill will eventually be approved. "I'm down here in Austin to get results...if it takes one special session, two special sessions, three. That doesn't really matter to me as long as we get the ball across the goal line."
The governor's communications director, Renae Eze, told CBS News Texas late Thursday afternoon, "Conversations between our office and the House leadership team are ongoing as we continue working to deliver school choice for Texas parents and students."
Also at the Texas Capitol this week, the House approved three border security bills, but not before tempers flared in the chamber after Representative Cody Harris (R-Anderson) made a motion to limit the number of amendments and debate on one of the measures.
In a video recorded by Representative Ana Maria Ramos (D-Dallas) that she posted on X, Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) criticized Harris for making his motion. "It pisses me off. It hurts us personally. It hurts our community."
Lawmakers ended up allowing more debate and then passed HB 4, which makes it a state crime for a migrant to enter Texas illegally.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
The House also approved SB 4, which cracks down further on illegal stash houses. The Senate already passed this so it will go to the governor's office.
The House also gave the green light to HB 6, which spends $1.5 billion to expand the state's border wall. It will also go to the Senate.
for more features.