State Budget
11:51 am
Fri April 5, 2013

House Passes $93 Billion Budget, Says No To Private School Vouchers

The Texas House passed a $93.5 billion budget bill that bans state funding of school vouchers and open-enrollment charter schools and paves the way for accepting Medicaid expansion.

During the debate on the budget, Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, introduced the amendment that prohibits the funding of school vouchers.

"I think it sometimes is good to stir up a hornets nest, especially when it comes to making public education a priority, and this amendment is to clarify that the state must meet its responsibility of funding our public schools. And I would take that a step further and say it needs to fully restore funding to our public schools," Herrero said.

The measure passed on a vote of 103-43.

The budget allows for $3.5 billion in public education funding - $2.5 billion plus $1 billion in supplemental funding - which is less than the amount taken away during the 2011 session. Another hotly-debated item was accepting a federal Medicaid expansion plan.

Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, added a joint resolution with Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, that allows Texas to accept additional Medicaid dollars if those qualifying agree to pay a portion of the cost.

"For which there is not a solution that Texas has right now, which is what we are trying to define. It is potentially 1 million-1.5 million people that would fall into this category," Zerwas said.

The resolution won approval on a vote of 86-57. The budget bill now heads back the Senate before being sent to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk.