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May 24, 2005

Vouchers Fail in the State House, Did Leininger Offer Bribes?

By Byron LaMasters

Good news (emphasis mine):

A plan to make Texas one of the first states with a large-scale voucher program died Monday night after a raucous debate and a series of close votes in the House.

After the bill was gutted to make vouchers available only for public and not private schools, Speaker Tom Craddick sustained a parliamentary challenge that killed the issue for this session. [...]

Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, was one of several members who tried to strip the pilot program from the bill.

"This is a proposal that would drain millions of dollars from public school budgets at a time we can't seem to come up with money for textbooks we've already promised to the kids," said Hochberg.

Hochberg's amendment was tabled 72-71, with Craddick casting the deciding vote after an initial vote yielded a tie. Houston Democrats Kevin Bailey and Harold Dutton were not present for the vote. [...]

A second vote on another amendment to strip the provision failed on a 72-72 tie with Craddick voting to table the amendment.

After that, however, Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, succeeded with two amendments that proved lethal. One stripped out the Dallas and Fort Worth districts, and the other removed private and parochial schools.

The chamber was buzzing Monday with word that Craddick and longtime Republican backer James Leininger were pressuring undecided lawmakers in a back office.

Leininger, a San Antonio businessman, has used part of his fortune to set up a voucher program there.

One lawmaker said at least 12 Republicans had been called into a meeting. Craddick's office would neither confirm nor deny the widespread reports about Leininger's presence.

It's not as bad as Bo Pilgrim handing out $10,000 checks on the state senate floor, but Leninger is one of the top GOP donors in Texas, and I would not be surprised if bribes or primary challenge threats were made in the Speaker's office to state house members.

Update: You can watch the debate from yesterday on the house floor here. The Quorum Report has much more including time markers for several of the important moments.

More at PinkDome and Aaron Pena's blog (with a Star Wars twist) as well.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at May 24, 2005 02:30 PM | TrackBack


Leninger's puppy is school vouchers.. from an old Texas Monthly article:

He founded and provided seed money for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an increasingly influential conservative think tank, in 1989. He has invested millions in private school voucher programs in San Antonio, the first of which he initiated in 1993. Some regard the state Republican party as an extension of his empire; its chair, Susan Weddington, is a former Kinetic Concepts employee, and the $ 475,000 Leininger donated to state party and caucus committees in the 2000 election cycle far exceeded the amount contributed by any other individual or organization in Texas, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

Posted by: Crystal at May 24, 2005 04:07 PM

Using personal wealth to try to buy kids a chance. What a bastard.

Posted by: snrub at May 25, 2005 12:27 AM

Actually Leininger is using his personal wealth to destroy the public school system, which would deny many more kids any chance at all. Leininger is also known, via the Texas Monthy article cited above as well as his obsessive attacks against gays and lesbians and the prior attempts by his cronies to deprive people with HIV of the medications they must have to live, as one of the many notable faces of murderous, over the top hatred in the Lone Star State. Indeed he is a bastard, along with the other Republican/Bigots.

Posted by: Tom Coleman at May 25, 2005 12:18 PM

I have no problem with private voucher/scholarship programs. That is something that the private sector should and ought to do. The job of the government, however, is to fund public schools, and vouchers invariably take money away from public schools, or that could be going to public schools.

Posted by: Byron L at May 25, 2005 03:19 PM

"The job of the government, however, is to fund public schools." Thought the goal of funding public education was to educate. Guess I was wrong, the role of funding the public school system is to fund the public school system. Public schools are now an end in and of themseleves.

Posted by: snrub at May 26, 2005 03:52 PM

Did Leininger Offer Bribes?

I thought you guys learned your lesson regarding slander with your baseless, despicable accusations regarding Rick Perry?

Posted by: x at May 27, 2005 04:33 PM
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