Governor Gregg Abbott has said repeatedly that vouchers was a high priority for him. He has traveled the state, visiting private schools, to promote them. His party controls both houses of the legislature. Voucher legislation passed in the Senate. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill barring vouchers by 86-52.

Edward McKinley of The Houston Chronicle reported:

The Texas House voted Thursday to restrict public funds from subsidizing private education, a major rebuke of Gov. Greg Abbott and the state Senate, which was expected to pass a so-called voucher program later in the day.

Although past efforts have fallen short in the House, voucher programs have received more support this year than ever before. Gov. Greg Abbott named them a priority in his State of the State address earlier this year, and he has toured the state calling for enaction. Abbott argues that parents are currently deprived of options for their children’s education, and he also says that public schools have become tools for progressive indoctrination.

The margin on Tuesday was 86 to 52. House Public Education Chair Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, attempted to prevent the chamber from voting on the measure at all, saying it was inappropriate considering that his committee plans to hold public hearings for several voucher policies next week.

“This process with this amendment turns things really in the wrong direction. It is the proverbial cart before the horse,” he said. In past sessions, Buckley has voted for the same amendment. If Buckley had been successful, it would have allowed the House to avoid any provocation of the governor or lieutenant governor.

Buckley’s effort failed by a seven-vote margin, with about a dozen Republicans joining the Democrats to stop it.

The House’s measure still needs approval from the Senate and from Abbott, and members could still decide to ultimately approve a voucher program later this session – but it proves there’s not a strong desire in the House to go on-record as supporting vouchers.

“These are public funds for public schools, as outlined and stated specifically in the Texas Constitution,” said Rep. Abel Herrero, a Robstown Democrat and the author of the amendment calling for the ban. Herrero has offered the same amendment in past sessions, where it has often won more than 100 votes.

In past years, the Herrero amendment has been opposed by the state Senate and ultimately stripped out during negotiations between the two chambers.