Gov. Lee signs school voucher bill

Capitol View
Posted at 3:58 PM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 16:58:43-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed a bill diverting tax dollars to private education.

The new law will allow participating families to receive debit cards worth up to $7,300 in state education money each year.

The freshman governor navigated a bumpy legislative path to score his most prominent policy win yet with the voucher-like proposal. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sent supportive tweets while it was debated in the Legislature.

Eventually, the bill narrowly emerged from fights over cost estimates and provisions that could exclude families in the U.S. illegally.

Nationally, five states have passed laws allowing some sort of education savings accounts: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Nevada. The Nevada Supreme Court later ruled the state could not use school dollars to fund the accounts.

The House Democratic Caucus released a statement Friday saying members were "outraged" the bill had been signed over the holiday weekend.

“This is a bad day for Tennessee’s schools and the families that rely on them,” said Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.