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Friday, April 26, 2019

Senate voucher bill
Gov. Bill Lee's controversial voucher bill received approval Thursday in the state senate. The upper chamber approved the governor's legislation by a 20-13 vote after a two-hour debate. Said Lee, "Itís mostly for me an important day for the children of Tennessee and for opportunities for them regarding education and the future of Tennessee." The program would provide parents n Nashville and Memphis with public money to spend on private school, supplies and educational services. Critics maintain that all it does is take away tax dollars from already under-funded public schools. Senator Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, argued that if the program is so effective, then more lawmakers would want their districts to be involved. Some teachers are worried the bill would take away funding from the state's already lowest performing public schools. "You are voting on a statewide program, the only thing that makes this a pilot project is that we changed the name," said Yarbro. "If you believe it would genuinely change the trajectory of lives of the children you represent, you would be offended your county wasn't included but it's the exact opposite." But there are differences with the House version, that need to be hashed out if either body decides not to agree to the other's plan. A disagreement would mean the appointment of a conference committee where a compromise bill would need to be voted on by lawmakers. Senator Steve Southerland voted against the bill. He previously told the Newssource he believes instead of vouchers, efforts should be made to better the performance of schools to benefit all students. Most area school boards have gone on record opposing vouchers.

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