More TN school voucher debate expected next session


NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( – With one bill already planned to repeal what’s been passed, expect more school voucher debate when state lawmakers come back in January.

“It does one thing,” says Nashville Democrat Bo Mitchell who is sponsoring the bill. “It repeals in its entirety the voucher section of the code, and we go back to putting public dollars into public education.”

The bill –formally called the education savings account or ESA– applies only to eligible students in under-performing Nashville and Memphis schools.

The measure barely passed its key hurdle in the Tennessee house last session despite a variety of questions about the bill and how lawmakers were swayed to vote for it.

“Even the supporters, with all the clouds surrounding this piece of legislation, they should want to re-look at this,” adds the Rep. Mitchell.

The ESA voucher bill allows more than $7,000 in state public education funds yearly for eligible students to help pay for things like a private school.

The more than twenty House Republicans who voted against the ESA voucher bill included new Speaker Cameron Sexton, who was then House Republican Caucus Chair.

He was recently asked his view of repealing the ESA voucher bill.

“We’ll have to see what happens when it is run through the committee process, and we’ll see what the debate is and how it moves forward, but at the same time the governor has the capability through the law to continue implementing the policy that was passed,” said the new speaker.

The ESA voucher enrollment is scheduled to be 5,000 students in its initial year and capped five years later at 15,000 students.

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