AUSTIN (KXAN) – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told a lively crowd at the Paramount Theater on Saturday “there is no domestic issue I care more about than school choice.” 

Cruz, who is seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2024, answered questions posed by Texas Tribune Political Reporter Patrick Svitek about several hot topics Texans care about during a TribFest appearance.

“I look at every vote the state legislature has taken on ‘school choice.’ If you’re a state legislator [who] voted in favor of ‘choice,’ and you are otherwise relatively conservative, you are quite likely to get my support,” Cruz said. “If you voted against ‘choice,’ then the chances of my supporting you are essentially zero.” 

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he intends to call a special session next month to pass “school choice” legislation. He has proposed a school voucher-like program where eligible families could be sent $8,000 per child to subsidize private school expenses.

The Texas legislature looked at these initiatives last session, and the Texas House of Representatives voted to prohibit state money from funding private school vouchers or education savings accounts, per KXAN reporting

“If when I die, my tombstone says that, ‘Ted played a meaningful role in bringing school choice to the kids of Texas and the kids of America,’ then I die a happy man,” Cruz said. 

Most Texas Democratic state legislators consistently did not support “school choice” or “school voucher” programs last session. The initiatives also had opposition from some Republicans who worried funds could be stripped from some rural school districts that did not have private alternatives, per KXAN reporting.

Carisa Lopez, political director for Texas Freedom Network, told KXAN in April that when it comes to schools, the priority should be keeping public schools fully funded. 

“We need to be investing in our public schools instead of diverting those dollars to private voucher schemes,” Lopez told KXAN’s Ryan Chandler.