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Court of Appeals upholds education savings account program decision, says it is unconstitutional

The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the decision of a lower court which found that the program was unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld a decision from a lower court that found Governor Bill Lee's education savings account program was unconstitutional.

The program would have allowed students to attend private schools and partially pay for it with public funds. After a hearing in May, Davidson County Chancellor Anne Martin struck down the law. Two days after the ruling, Governor Lee said he would appeal the decision.

Education savings accounts function similarly to traditional school voucher programs, allowing parents to pay for children's private school tuition with help from public funds. In the past, lawmakers said they were uneasy about possibly taking away funding from public schools.

Teachers' unions and other public education groups said they were concerned the programs could be a workaround to existing bans on giving public dollars to religious organizations and schools.

The law had originally been planned to apply more widely across Tennessee but was tweaked to only apply to Davidson and Shelby counties after lawmakers negotiated to exempt most counties from the bill, including Knox County.

Lee said that the program would have cost around $125 million over the course of five years.

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