Governor Bill Haslam told Chattanooga Rotarians Thursday that even though the state has many needs, his priorities are focused on education.
The governor used his talk at the Trade Center to reinforce the planks in his State of the State address.
The Governor renewed his commitment to raising the number of college graduates in the state, pledged to hold the line of Medicaid/TennCare spending and gave his controversial plans to send low-income kids to private schools another strong endorsement in his talk to the Chattanooga Rotary Club.
GOV. BILL HASLAM, (R) TENNESSEE "Think of the money following the child ..Instead of going to the system."
And that's one of the drawbacks as far as some long-time educators are concerned---the money.
GOV. HASLAM "I realize that there is passion on both sides, the people thinking well, if you do that you're taking money away from public schools...but those particular schools..the bottom 5 percent..we've actually put an extra 37-million dollars into..in the budget."
The second most asked question about private school vouchers is..what about religious schools?
GOV. HASLAM "No, if you are a Catholic school, Church, religious school of any kind..you won't have to change your school's philosophy. You will have to do a couple of things..there will be some accountability..the child is bringing public money with them..and we have accountability tests...now, like TCAP for out students."
The governor admits choosing 5-thousand of the state's 1-million K-12 students for the voucher program won't be easy. He says the private schools will have to accept the funding as full tuition.
On job creation, Governor Haslam says a top executive of a potential new industry, made him promise the public schools would not let him down.
GOV. HASLAM "So tell us who this big company is..you're trying to bring to the state...ha ha, I literally can't do that . But at the end of the day..education was the number one issue."
House majority leader Gerald McCormick of Hixson will carry the Governor's legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly.