You know about the camel’s nose under the tent? That’s the game that Texas Republicans are playing in an effort to establish a foothold for vouchers. They have copied this tactic from other states. It goes like this: We don’t want vouchers for everyone; we want them just for this very small, very needy, very deserving group of children. If they get that bill passed, within a year or two, another group is added, then another, then another, until vouchers are available for everyone.

Just weeks ago, the Texas House of Representatives, firmly in the hands of Republicans, defeated the Senate’s voucher bill. It was widely assumed that vouchers were dead for this year. But, no, Senate Republicans added a voucher program only for children with disabilities to an important school finance proposal. Its advocates choose to ignore the fact that children with disabilities are protected by federal law in public schools, but not in private schools. They also ignore the fact that private schools for children with disabilities are far more expensive than the voucher they will offer.

The Senate’s version of the bill does not not yet have a legislative fiscal note. The Center for Public Policy Priorities estimates that it could mean about $8,300 for students to use with about $450 going back to the district.

With no income qualification cutoffs attached, the group estimates that Texas schools could lose about $37 million annually after the first year of ESAs if just 1 percent of eligible students used them.

Supporters of public education were happy about the school finance proposal, but they had to backtrack on their support when they saw that the Senate had added vouchers to the bill. For the public school supporters, this is a poison pill. Given the strong opposition to vouchers in the House, there is a good chance that the Senate voucher provision will not survive.

The members of the House must decide if they want the camel’s nose to enter the tent, knowing what will come next.