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Texas

Constitutional Provisions

Compelled Support Clause

“No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent.” Texas Const. Art. I, § 6.

Blaine Amendments

“No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.” Texas Const. Art. I, § 7.

“The permanent school fund and the available school fund may not be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.” Texas Const. Art. VII, § 5(c).

Education Article

“A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” Texas Const. Art. VII, § 1.

Vouchers: Yes

Tax Credits: Yes


Existing Private School Choice Programs

None

Relevant Case Law

Church v. Bullock, 109 S.W. 115 (Tex. 1908)

The Texas Supreme Court held that reading from the King James Bible and reciting the Lord’s Prayer did not turn a Texas public school into a “sectarian” institution because both are critical to developing students’ moral faculties.

1975 Tex. AG LEXIS 285, Letter Advisory No. 105

The Texas attorney general concluded that distribution of state-owned textbooks to private school pupils would not violate a Blaine Amendment (Article I, Section 7) of the Texas Constitution because it would provide only “minimal benefits to the sectarian activities of nonpublic schools.”

1973 Tex. AG LEXIS 231, 15-16 Opinion No H-66

The Texas attorney general concluded that providing public funds to parochial schools through tuition equalization grants under a religiously neutral program is not inherently unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution because although Texas’ second Blaine Amendment (Article VII, Section 5) “prohibits aid to sects[,]” “not all denominational institutions are sectarian in the constitutional sense.”

Analysis and Recommendations

Both tax credit and voucher programs are school choice options for Texas. The few interpretations of Texas’ Blaine Amendments and its Compelled Support Clause that exist do not prohibit providing aid to parents to enable them to select public or private schools for their children. Such programs must be funded by sources other than the permanent and available school funds defined in Sections 2, 5 and 6b of the education article (Article VII) of the Texas Constitution. Because Texas has no state income tax, a tax credit program will have to use corporate or other taxes.

Model Legislation: Education Savings Account, Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Universal Eligibility), Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Means-Tested Eligibility), Special Needs Scholarship Program, Foster Child Scholarship Program, Autism Scholarship, Great Schools Tax Credit Program, Family Education Tax Credit Program

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