State Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion and a press release late in the afternoon of Monday, March 20, stating that there are no federal or state constitutional barriers prohibiting school choice (“vouchers”) in Texas.
The opinion and news release were issued 10 days after Senate Education Committee Chair Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, asked Paxton to provide an official AG’s opinion about whether a “Texas Education Savings Account” (ESA) program would be allowed under the Texas Constitution (article) — and two days before a Republican-backed major voucher bill will be considered in a Senate committee hearing.
- Note: This was an unusually quick turnaround between when the AG’s office receives a request for an opinion and when the resulting formal opinion is issued, a time period that can take typically as long as several months. AG opinions are nonbinding, but are generally relied upon by state agencies and local governments, unless a court rules otherwise.
The proposed ESA program would make education assistance payments available to program participants, including to religious schools. Establishing ESAs are a key part of the SB8-Creighton education reform bill that was filed on March 10.
Voucher Bill Hearing
Vouchers will be front and center at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 22, as Creighton’s voucher bill is set for a hearing before the Senate Education Committee. The bill has the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Gov. Abbott has also been continually reinforcing his strong support for vouchers, something that has been strongly opposed by the state’s mainstream public education school management and school employee associations (Texas Tribune).