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Government/Politics

Senate Passes What Some Are Calling The State's First School Voucher Bill

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Ryan E. Poppe

A bill that would allow businesses to fund students’ education at a private school passes out of the Texas Senate. Although the bill’s author says his legislation creates a scholarship program, others in the senate call it a public school voucher bill.

Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor is a Republican from Friendswood and has authored a bill that would provide state tax benefits to companies that set up scholarship funds so that students attending public school could attend a nearby private school.

“And it’s not a voucher; a voucher in general definition is public money being given to students to go to a private school. This is not public money, this is private money. Corporations and businesses that contribute to the Margin’s Tax in Texas could chose to contribute to one of 25 different named and certified educational service organizations across the state,” Taylor explained.

But San Antonio Democratic Sen. Jose Menendez still calls the bill a voucher program because the tax exemptions the state is paying these companies would’ve fed into other areas of state funding.

“The state is losing out on revenue, that’s revenue that could’ve gone through the formulas of general revenue that could end up in the school system. It’s is like Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name is still a rose,” Menendez pointed out.

Menendez says with this the public has no oversight of issues ranging from student accountability to Equal Opportunity standards.

Taylor’s bill would also allow the businesses to decide which students will receive the “scholarship.” The bill passed out of the senate on a vote of 18 to 12.