By Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has unveiled a voucher proposal giving families education saving accounts with public funding to send their children to private and religious schools.

Tea party-backed Patrick has long championed “school choice,” and the Texas Senate approved a hot-button voucher bill last session.

But, in the state House, vouchers have been defeated by Democrats teaming with rural Republicans afraid of harming public schools considered the lifeblood of their small communities.

This session, the House appears unwilling to alter its past view that public money should stay in public schools.

The lower chamber’s proposed budget also would increase public education funding beyond just covering enrollment growth - something the Texas Senate hasn’t proposed.

But Patrick says he wants to make vouchers a long-term reality, even if it takes years.

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