On Friday, April 5th the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), the Texas Association of Nonpublic School (TANS) and the Texas Catholic Conference issued the following statement in response to an anti-voucher amendment adopted by the House of Representatives on Thursday, April 4, 2013:
Tax Credit Scholarship Proposals Not Affected by Anti-Voucher Amendment
During debate of the state budget bill, Senate Bill 1, on the Texas House floor yesterday, state representatives adopted, by a vote of 103-40, an amendment by Rep. Abel Herrero’s (D-Robstown) that would prohibit money appropriated to the Texas Education Agency (public education) from being used to “support school vouchers or scholarships for private primary or secondary education provided by nonprofit entities using donations received from entities that receive tax credits as a result of the donations.” However, as adopted, the amendment does not directly affect the passage of a tax credit scholarship program.
Jesse Hervitz, Associate Political Director for the Orthodox Union remarked:
“We are extremely disappointed with the vote on the Herrero amendment. It is clear that supporters of this amendment demonstrated their wish not to see public education dollars spent on vouchers or scholarships for private education. They did not, however, definitively vote against a proposal that would help students receive these scholarships if public education dollars are kept out of the equation.”
Neither of the proposed tax credit scholarship proposals currently being considered in the legislature—House Bill 3245, authored by Representative Bill Callegari or Senate Bill 23, co-authored by Senator Dan Patrick and Senator Ken Paxton (The Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program)—do indeed support scholarships for private education by using donations received from tax credits, neither bill uses any money appropriated to the Texas Education Agency. These bills are funded through private donations by the business community.
Jeffrey Paterson, Director of the Texas Catholic Conference stated:
“There seems to be a misunderstanding that the Herrera Amendment to the House Budget was a rejection of school choice scholarships in any form. In reality, tax credit scholarships do not use any appropriated money, let alone funds budgeted for public education. This is why these programs have been so successful in other states and can work for Texas students and families.”