TEXAS — Gov. Greg Abbott is making his clearest push yet for private school vouchers as he looks to make education and parental rights a key part of his re-election campaign.

On Monday, the governor added the idea of using public funds to attend private school to his "parental bill of rights.”  He did note public schools would still be fully funded.

“We can fully fund public schools,” he said at a campaign event in San Antonio. “While still giving parents a choice over which school is best for their child.”

But voucher proposals have long faced opposition from a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who don't want to funnel state money away from public schools. That includes some rural Republicans who represent areas with few private school options.

The governor addressed that Wednesday on a conservative radio show.

"It doesn't change anything at all in the rural regions in the state of Texas,” he said on the Chad Hasty Show. “There's neither an upside nor a downside for the public schools in rural Texas. They lose absolutely nothing. They will continue to receive the exact same amount of funding that they would otherwise be entitled to."

Abbott's opponent, Democrat Beto O'Rourke, immediately seized on the issue. He tweeted that the governor wants to "defund" public schools, and that Abbott is already underfunding Texas classrooms.

Monty Exter is a lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators, which is against vouchers. He says vouchers would inherently take away from public schools.

“We have one pie in Texas in terms of budget,” said Exter during an interview on Capital Tonight. “If you’re taking slices out of it for something out, you have less for everything else that’s in the pie. So it seems a little specious to [say] funding is going to remain the same, unless we’re talking about increasing the budget or taxes, which doesn’t seem like what the governor is saying.”

Michael Barba, the K-12 education policy director for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, says the issue comes down to respect for parents. 

“A lot of what has happened in the last two years has given parents transparency into what their children are learning,” said Barba. “They’ve seen it’s not up to the quality they want, or it’s not aligned with their values. And they need options of where to send their kids.”

Click the link above to watch that full conversation.