EDITORIAL/School Choice: Issue divides Republican lawmakers from cities, rural districts

Republicans have controlled the Texas state Legislature for some time now.

But they don't always move in lockstep.

That was made abundantly clear last week, when Gov. Greg Abbott's school choice bill was passed by the state Senate but firmly rejected by the House.

A school choice voucher program, which would set up an education savings account allowing parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private schools, has long been an Abbott priority. And it looked like he might get his wish when the state Senate passed a school funding bill that included the proposal by a vote of 18-3 last month.

But that hope was dashed Friday when state House members voted to remove school choice from the bill by a vote of 84-63.

Why? While school choice is favored by Republicans from big cities, it is very unpopular with those who represent rural districts. Large cities are better able to handle a hit to their school tax base. But already struggling rural school districts can't afford anything that takes tax dollars away.

Abbott has vowed to press on. But he's going to have a hard time convincing rural lawmakers to vote against their constituents' interests -- and their own come election time.

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