NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A
proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee is advancing in the
The measure proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam passed the House Budget
Subcommittee 7-6 on Wednesday.
The Governor calls it the
Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship Act. It took House Speaker Beth
Harwell to cast the deciding vote.
"You know it was brought to
my attention that it would be necessary for my vote in order to continue to
move the bill forward. I think
ultimately the finance committee is going to have a lot of input and I think
there are a lot of members in the general assembly eager to look at this bill," said Harwell.
The legislation is slightly different than an original measure
brought by the Republican governor that was limited to students from low-income
families attending the bottom 5 percent of failing schools.
The measure that passed would expand eligibility to the bottom 10
percent of failing schools if slots are left.
"They are failing in many different ways. These schools have proficiency rates as low as 15 percent. 85 percent of children are not proficient as they move through there," said Representative Bill Dunn of Knoxville.
Haslam withdrew his initial legislation last year when Senate
Republicans sought to expand to a larger number of children.
The Senate version of the voucher proposal was to be taken up in
the Senate Education Committee later Wednesday.
A spokesman for Governor
Haslam says the governor is pleased to see the bill is progressing. The bill will be heard by the full committee