School voucher stalemate forces historic fourth special session of Texas Legislature

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AUSTIN, Texas - The third special session of the Texas Legislature came to an end on Tuesday and Governor Greg Abbott immediately called a fourth.

Some Republicans are hoping they can hammer out a negotiated plan to provide some form of school vouchers and expanded public school and teacher funding in the next 30 days in a fourth special session.

The next 30-day gathering will mark the first time lawmakers have had four special sessions in the same year as a regular session.

The agenda items in the fourth special session are border security and providing school vouchers or what Gov. Abbott calls education freedom for parents.

The opposition continues to come from a block of Republicans and Democrats in the House.

[REPORTER: "This isn't one of those cases where Republicans can just blame Democrats in the House, because some of your colleagues are also against it. So what changes? What magically happens in the next 30 days?"]

"You're exactly right, and it might surprise a lot of people to hear me say this. I think it is absolutely unfair to just blame the Democrats," said State Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Waxahachie).

Rural Republicans and others in the House are opposed to a voucher-style program in many cases, because access to private schooling is limited outside big cities.

Rep. Harrison had a message for his colleagues on Tuesday.

"If you continue to oppose a school choice, you are turning your back on the voters. You're saying you don't trust parents, and you're not looking out for the best interests of the education of all of the millions of schoolchildren in the State of Texas," said Harrison. "I proudly stand on the side of parents, teachers and students."

READ MORE: What you should know about education savings accounts, the voucher-like program championed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Rockwall Republican State Rep. Justin Holland has a different view.

"For some reason, it's not conservative to fund public schools. And so I can't figure out why adding $500 million in a taxpayer-funded private school program is conservative. I'm willing to negotiate," said Rep. Holland.

The Rockwall representative thinks the only way vouchers will pass is with a compromise in the House that flips the narrative, limiting the scope of school choice and making public education the priority.

"I suspect that House Bill 1 will be a comprehensive school funding and education savings account program that is limited to special education and testing performance, maybe economic situations. I don't know if that's expansive enough for the governor. I don't know if it's expansive enough for the Senate," said Rep. Holland.

While Rep. Holland and Rep. Harrison disagree on vouchers both say another priority that needs to pass in the legislature is more funding for a border security plan.

The Senate didn't take up the House border plan over the weekend.