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Published on February 27, 2024
Texas Gov. Abbott Steers $6M to Pro-Voucher GOP Candidates, Shaking Up Education Policy BattleWorld Travel & Tourism Council, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a high-stakes move, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has funneled over $6 million into the coffers of pro-voucher GOP candidates in an aggressive attempt to reshape Texas' education landscape, campaign filings revealed. The cash wave, coming from Abbott's substantial war chest, targeted GOP figures who previously resisted his voucher initiatives, with a significant portion of funds aimed at dethroning incumbents who stood against the controversial proposal last fall, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Abbott's campaign contributions—which accounted for more than 90 percent of the total funding for several pro-voucher candidates—were made possible through a hefty $6 million donation from Jeff Yass, a Pennsylvania billionaire and staunch school voucher advocate, this unprecedented contribution marked the “largest single donation in Texas history” and swelled Abbott’s campaign reserves to a formidable $38 million, based on reports from the Texas Tribune.

A closer look at the campaign filings showed that Abbott’s top beneficiary within this spending spree was Marc LaHood, a Republican attorney, who received a whopping $672,000 for his campaign against anti-voucher incumbent state Rep. Steve Allison, meanwhile, school board trustee Janis Holt, received about $671,000, primarily for advertising, which constituted an overwhelming 92 percent of her campaign contributions over the past month.

The governor's financial influence extends beyond individual campaigns, as he attempts to net the essential 13 additional pro-voucher members to secure a 76-vote majority in the Texas House, his political maneuvering starkly contrasts the efforts of the Charles Butt Public Education PAC which is pouring its resources into the campaigns of GOP incumbents opposed to vouchers, and despite Abbott's support, many of the Speaker Dade Phelan's recipients have been targeted over their vote to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The clash of ideologies and financial muscle marks a pivotal moment for Texas' educational policy, the outcome of which will influence the state's future direction in schooling and parental choice. The governor's heavy investment in the voucher campaign underscores his commitment to the issue, with each dollar spent serving as a testament to how deeply entrenched the battle lines have become in the Lone Star State's political theatre.