By KIMBERLEE KRUESI and JONATHAN MATTISE
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – An already contentious voucher-like proposal took a dramatic turn in Tennessee as Republican leaders refused to acknowledge a vote spiking the proposal on the House floor and Senate leaders advocated for a drastically different version.
Tuesday’s action marked the latest evolution stemming from Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account proposal – known as a voucher-style program allowing families to take public dollars to pay for private school tuition and other expenses.
In the House, Speaker Glen Casada refused to accept a vote tally spiking the voucher bill by just one vote. Instead, he held the floor in limbo for more than 30 minutes until he had successfully lobbied a fellow Republican to flip his vote.
Casada’s action sparked outcry from Democrats, who argued the decision likely violated the state’s constitution.
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The state democratic party issued this statement afterwards calling the bill “a travesty.”
The April 23, 2019 (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini issued the following statement following the Tennessee House’s passage of legislation to create a private school voucher program in Tennessee:
“There’s a deep-rooted problem in our state legislature when the Republican governor and speaker of the house are able to rig the vote, silence dissenting voices, and use public schools and teachers as pawns to get their voucher bill passed in Tennessee.
A handful of Tennessee House Republicans, who were on the fence about vouchers, were offered money for pork projects in their districts in exchange for their yes vote. In other words, they threw public school students and teachers under the bus so they can run home and claim victory in a press release while public schools suffer for decades because of their spineless decision.
“Vouchers have not succeeded in any other state. To have them in Tennessee is a travesty and illustrates that Republicans are willing to abandon the absolute duty our government has to ensure a high-quality public education for every child in Tennessee.”