Texas Republicans have been longing to pass a voucher bill, but they have been stymied by grassroots opposition and by our friends, Pastors for Texas Children, who believe in separation of church and state.

This year, Governor Greg Abbot and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick are determined to pass voucher legislation, and they have the support of wealthy white Evangelical Christian nationalists.

NBC News reported the story of the big money behind vouchers:

Texas Republicans bankrolled by Christian conservative donors are hoping to ride a wave of parental anger over the teaching of race and sexuality in schools to achieve what has long been an unattainable goal: state funding for private education.

Groups committed to giving parents the option of sending their children to private schools using taxpayer dollars — sometimes known as “school choice” or “vouchers” — have given millions of dollars to Republican candidates in Texas this year, helping to win key races and pushing some establishment lawmakers further to the right on the issue. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott recently pledged to make school choice a priority in the next legislative session if he wins re-election over Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

As a result, political observers say, public school funding is effectively on the ballot Tuesday.

The push for private school vouchers has been funded in large part by Defend Texas Liberty, a Christian nationalist-aligned political action committee led by a former far-right Republican state lawmaker and bankrolled by a pair of West Texas billionaires. The PAC has spent nearly $10 million this year, largely backing candidates who support public funding for private education and attacking those who oppose it, according to an NBC News analysis of Texas Ethics Commission campaign finance reports and data compiled by the nonprofit OpenSecrets.

Defend Texas Liberty did not respond to messages requesting interviews with PAC leaders.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, said big spending by groups like Defend Texas Liberty and local fights over the way schools address racism, history and LGBTQ identities have “softened the ground” for school privatization — in Texas and nationally.

“These groups have been demonizing what is being taught in public schools, and that’s the fastest way to erode faith that public schools work,” Rottinghaus said. “Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant. If people believe that it’s true, then it’s politically potent.”

Defend Texas Liberty gave $3.6 million to former state lawmaker Don Huffines, an Abbott primary challenger who ran a campaign promising to crack down on medical care for transgender children, require the teaching of creationism in public schools and give parents government money to send their children to private schools. (Abbott publicly came out in support of private school vouchers two months after winning the primary with 66.5% of the vote.)

The PAC also spent $168,000 supporting Republican Nate Schatzline, a former pastor running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives on a campaign to give parents more freedom to decide how and where their children are educated. Schatzline won a competitive GOP primary in a solidly conservative North Texas district in part by painting his Republican opponent as an advocate for teaching “leftist, woke ideologies” in schools.

“It’s time to outlaw the sexualization of our children!” Schatzline wrote on his campaign website. “It’s time to outlaw racist ideologies that seek to divide our children, not unify them. It’s time to teach our children to love America, not hate it!”

Defend Texas Liberty donations accounted for more than a third of Schatzline’s campaign funding. He initially agreed to speak with a reporter for NBC News, but later did not return phone calls or text messages.

And this fall, Defend Texas Liberty spent $100,000 to put up dozens of billboards along Texas highways, including some that showed a photo of O’Rourke next to a baseless allegation about “grooming” children, an anti-LGBTQ attack that’s become popular among conservatives this year.

In a statement, Tori Larned, a spokesperson for O’Rourke’s campaign, said, “Abbott is now calling to defund public education with his voucher program that takes tax dollars out of public school classrooms across the state and sends them away to private schools.”

Abbott has denied that vouchers would harm public education.

“We can fully fund public schools while also giving parents a choice about which school is right for their child,” he said during a May campaign event in San Antonio. “Empowering parents means giving them the choice to send their children to any public school, charter school or private school with state funding following the student.”

Defend Texas Liberty is led by former state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Republican who earned a reputation as the state’s most conservative lawmaker before leaving the legislature in 2021. Nearly 90% of the PAC’s funding this year has come from Tim Dunn and the family of Farris Wilks, a pair of billionaire oil and fracking magnates who have expressed the view that Texas state government should be guided by Biblical valuesand run exclusively by evangelical Christians. Combined, they’ve spent tens of millions of dollars over the past decade funding far-right Texas candidates and a network of nonprofits and advocacy groups that push conservative policy ideas. Stickland, Wilks and Dunn did not respond to interview requests.

Please open the link and read the rest of the story. There are five million children in the public schools of Texas. The schools have been underfunded since 2011, when Republicans cut their budget by more than $5 billion. Where does Governor Abbott get the idea that the state can fund Evangelical schools (and Catholic and Muslim and Jewish and all other private schools) without taking more money away from public schools?