Austin American-Statesman, March 26 - In a sign of fights to come, Democratic and some Republican Texas senators chided a trio of divisive education proposals Thursday designed to award taxpayer — or donated — money to public school students to help pay tuition at private or religious learning institutions.
The concept, commonly referred to as “vouchers,” is one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top education priorities for the legislative session — one that he unsuccessfully championed as a state senator and has vowed to push again now that he presides over the upper chamber.
The Republican, in a surprise move, appeared before the Senate Education Committee Thursday to debunk arguments made against three such bills — made by school officials, teacher groups and a couple of Baptist pastors during hours of previous public testimony.
The committee’s Republican chairman, Larry Taylor of Galveston, filed the leading measure, Senate Bill 4, which he described Thursday as a “shell bill” that may be modified to include elements of the other two.