School Voucher Bill pulled again from Tennessee House

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The House sponsor of a proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee says he doesn’t have the votes to pass the measure aimed at covering private school tuition for children attending some the state’s worst public schools.

Republican state Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville called off a scheduled floor vote on Thursday morning before taking up a series of proposed amendments.

Dunn had offered to limit the measure to apply to just the state’s four largest counties, and had even been willing to have it apply only to just Shelby County.

Opponents had raised concerns of siphoning funding from public school systems to pay for the vouchers worth about $7,000 per student.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved its version of the bill last year.

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NASHVILLE (WDEF) – The Beacon Center (which supports the Voucher Bill) was quick to point out that the bill is not dead for the session.

The sponsor used a legislative maneuver that would allow him to revive it.

Here is the Beacon Center’s take on today’s developments.

Today, the Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act was laid on the desk in the House of Representatives, keeping the bill alive but delaying it until further notice.

Beacon CEO Justin Owen stated, “Due to the complexity and pure number of amendments added to the bill over the past few days, the vote on the opportunity scholarship bill will be delayed until there is more clarity.”

He went on to lambast some opponents of the bill saying, “It is one thing to be against this bill, but it is another to completely lie to the public about what is in the bill. The teachers union and other pro-union groups have intentionally deceived the public and legislature so that they can maintain their monopoly on the education system. We will continue to fight for underprivileged children and families because the Beacon Center doesn’t believe they deserve a second rate education because of where they live.”

Owen finished by noting “The Beacon Center will continue to fight on behalf of children and families across the state of Tennessee.”

State democrats are applauding the defeat of the voucher bill.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini released this statement:

“Democrats know that public money should be used for public schools so once we are delighted that our work to stop vouchers, the Republican plan to divert much-needed funds from public schools to private schools, has failed. It’s abundantly clear that all public schools in Tennessee simply do not have the same resources. Some are palaces with the most up-to-date technology available while others cannot supply a textbook to every child. Until this inequity is addressed and every child in every Tennessee zip code has access to an equal, quality public education, diverting public dollars away from public schools is not be an option.”

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