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Governor Haslam Rejects Proposed Compromise To Voucher Legislation

Legislation for proposed education voucher program withdrawn in Senate Education Committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Momentum for educational choice in the state of Tennessee received a setback today when Senate Republicans granted concessions in amending Gov. Haslam's voucher proposal but were denied the opportunity to have them considered at today's Senate Education Committee hearing. 

State Sen. Mark Norris (R- Collierville), the sponsor of the bill, abruptly withdrew the bill before it could even receive a fair hearing by the committee.

Senate Republicans on the committee were willing to reach a compromise with the Governor and Senator Norris. 

The new amendment incorporated Gov. Haslam's cap on the maximum number of participants in the program. It also retained Gov. Haslam's recommendation that the income level of eligible families remain at free and reduced lunch. The proposed amendment sought only to revise a provision that would have limited the program primarily to Memphis and Shelby County students. Instead it gave students in the lowest-performing public schools priority access to the vouchers.

The amendment was brought in response to testimony and feedback from national experts, who advised against restricting the program to low-performing schools, citing experience in states with similar programs. It is projected that the original bill would have only served several hundred children at its start.

"We are disappointed that a compromise that contained only one change to the underlying legislation was not sufficient middle ground," said Kimberly Kump, spokesperson for the Tennessee Federation for Children. "It is important to be flexible during the political process and a sad commentary when it is low-income families in our state that are hurt the most." 

Tennessee Federation for Children will continue to work with Governor Haslam and lawmakers to ensure a robust parental choice program for the state of Tennessee is enacted this session.  


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