AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Abbott said Wednesday he expects the House will pass legislation this session to establish education savings accounts, increase public school funding, and give teachers a bonus, signaling confidence that the ten-month impasse over his top priority will end by next week.
“We are on track to ensure there will not be another special session. There is enough time to get everything done that we want to get done, that needs to get done to avoid a special session,” Gov. Abbott told reporters Wednesday morning. “I think that we are on a timetable where we should be able to conclude everything that needs to be achieved this special session.”
Gov. Abbott said he expects the House will unveil a new bill to address those educational priorities on Wednesday, which he thinks “will be embraced.”
“So many legislators have so many wins in the bill that will be coming out today,” he said.
On Tuesday, House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley said he intends to file a substituted omnibus bill, addressing a wide swath of educational items in one package.
“It is important to this body, and it’s important to Texans that we take up teacher pay, that we take up school safety, that we increase the basic allotment, and we reform the accountability system that better informs parents.,” Rep. Buckley said. “It’s time for the Texas House to do what we do, to have a hearing and talk about these issues and debate on the floor.”
But some key Republican holdouts are skeptical the House will be able to get a bill passed with education savings accounts.
Shepherd Republican Ernest Bailes told Nexstar on Tuesday he doesn’t see “any shift” in the bloc of rural Republicans who have long opposed any type of school voucher plan. He is also skeptical the Senate would accept the House’s omnibus package, predicting this debate will enter a fourth special session.
About two dozen rural Republicans have so far prevented the plan from passing in the House. Gov. Abbott said he is confident the latest version will be enough to win their support.
“When they see all the details of what we’ve been able to put together, I think that rural Republicans, Democrats, others across the entire state — representatives and senators — will realize this package really does address almost all concerns that have been raised by legislators,” Gov. Abbott said.
The House is expected to meet for a short time after 6 p.m. Wednesday to assign the latest education bill to the committee.