Texas Lawmaker Files Private School Scholarship Bill

AUSTIN (March 8, 2013)—State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee, filed a highly anticipated bill Friday that would offer business tax credits for donations to help poor children leave public schools for private ones.

The tea-party-backed lawmaker has spent months clamoring for expanding school choice, but waited until Friday, the last day to file bills this legislative session, to introduce the measure.

It allows firms to get state tax credits of as much as 15 percent for donations to nonprofits that provide funding so low-income and at-risk children can leave traditional schools for private and religious alternatives.

Critics call it a voucher system, funneling money away from struggling public schools.

Patrick, however, says "voucher" is an outdated term.

House Speaker Joe Straus says any scholarship bill is unlikely to pass, but Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement in support of the measure.

“Expanding school choice in Texas will empower parents to make decisions in the best interest of their children, and provide an incentive to keep all Texas schools competitive," Perry said.

"I applaud these lawmakers for championing legislation that will benefit our students and our schools as well as the employers and industries that depend on our highly competitive workforce.”

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