Voucher bill's progress alarms rural Texans concerned about public school funding
Critics say the measure would make it difficult to fund teaching positions, pay increases
- A voucher-like program passed the Texas Senate last night. It was added as an amendment to a House bill about school funding. Texas Tech Public Media’s Sarah Self-Walbrick reports. The original version of House Bill 100 allocated $4.5 billion to give teachers raises and balance budgets. The Senate whittled that down to $3.8 billion, with about half a billion going to a voucher program. Michael Lee directs the Texas Association of Rural Schools and says he's disappointed with the change. “We are emphatic that teacher raises, increases in school funding and everything else is at risk because of vouchers.” The bill will now go back to the House, which is expected to be against the Senate’s changes. Governor Greg Abbott has said he will call a special session to get a school choice bill passed.
- A bill to create a new state border & immigration police force is closer to becoming law after it advanced in the Texas Senate early this morning. TPR's Marian Navarro has the details. Under House Bill 7, a Border Task Force Unit would be under the direction of the Texas Rangers. Officers will be able to use non-lethal force to arrest, apprehend, and detain migrants who cross the border illegally. It would also make it a state crime for migrants to enter Texas outside ports of entry ... and would mandate a minimum 10-year prison sentence for human smugglers. The bill is the latest challenge against the federal government's jurisdiction as the sole enforcer of immigration matters. Differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill must be settled before it heads to the governor's desk.