Vouchers, Squabbles on How to Pay Could Kill Texas Lawmakers' Tweaks of School Finance

AUSTIN -- Although the House and Senate's chief education policy writers have narrowed their differences on tweaking school finance, the two chambers still disagree over school vouchers for disabled students and how to pay for more school aid.Prospects for any major education accomplishments in the current special session remain very uncertain, lawmakers and school group lobbyists said Wednesday.Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, asked if tax credit scholarships for disabled students must be part of any bill on school finance, replied, "We'll have that discussion when we get there."Noting the session's probable end date, Aug. 16, he added, "We have plenty of time to keep conversing."On another school topic, a Senate plan to dedicate Texas lottery money for future teacher pay raises appears dead -- for the special session, at least."That was an idea," said Sen. Charles Perry, describing the bill he filed to carry out Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's wish to direct to teacher salaries the first half of the lottery's $1.3 billion annual contribution to public schools.The bill is all but dead for now, acknowledged Perry, a Lubbock Republican. He cited opposition from gambling opponents who want to end the lottery and school district officials who say the proposed raises for experienced teachers are an unfunded mandate."It probably wasn't ready for prime time," he said.  Continue reading...

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