Gov. Abbott confident a school choice deal can be made

A ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion was held to celebrate a new award. Texas has been recognized for having the top business climate in the nation.

"One thing is clear. 187 years after Texas was founded, there has never been a better time to be a Texan," said Governor Greg Abbott. 

The state's 90% graduation rate for high school students contributed to winning the economic award. Securing another victory, a promised major redesign of the state education system, is something Gov. Abbott believes lawmakers can deliver. 

"We are on track to ensure there will not be another special session. There is enough time to get everything done that we want to get done that needs to get done to avoid a special session," said Abbott.

A passing of the school choice plan is the main focus of the third special session of the state legislature. It's set to end early next week, and state lawmakers learned Tuesday afternoon, they will consider a new last-minute proposal. 

Three state senators, who have rural communities in their districts, spoke to FOX 7 Austin about the coming debate.

"Obviously we're coming up against a hard stop. And, you know, still a lot of all of this legislation, it's the details that really get down in the weeds and that's what's critical about passing good legislation," said State Sen, Kevin Sparks (R) Midland.

Abbott's new proposal is expected to be a rewrite of HB 1, which originally made school choice a limited pilot program. The plan now is to create a universal education savings account program, providing about $10,000 for each student in it.

"There's always a discussion about taking money away from public schools. This plan is new. Money doesn't even come out of the public school budget. But we're putting more money in traditional public schools while we put this plan forward. So it's a win-win," said State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) Tyler.

That "extra money" is to help sell the plan to state house members from rural parts of Texas. They've blocked previous attempts.

"Candidly, most of the House members don't know all the full details when they see all the details of what we've been able to put together. I think that rural Republicans, Democrats, others across the entire state, representatives and senators will realize this package really does address almost all concerns that have been raised by legislators," said Gov. Abbott.

To sweeten the deal, additional money for teachers will be authorized. The proposal is expected to clear the 31 member State Senate on a party line vote. The real fight remains in the House.


"There are 150 members over there, each with their own constituency to represent. 31, obviously, it's a little easier to get 31 together and kind of know where we know where the body is. It's harder and harder to do that when you have 150. And yet at the same time, I know collectively everybody wants to make sure that we empower parents. We make sure that those families have the best options available to them. And I think that's what we're trying to do as a whole," said State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R) North Richland Hills.

House Democrats are expected to fight Abbott’s Proposal using Procedural challenges. 

"I think you sell it as in. We want to make sure that every family has an opportunity to do what's best for their child, knowing that every child is different," said Hancock.