The Senate Finance Committee was slated to take up both Governor Lee’s charter authorizer bill and his plan to voucherize Tennessee public schools today. Instead, the committee only completed discussion on the charter bill, ultimately approving it and moving it forward.
Apparently, the voucher legislation will have to wait at least a week as revelations about growing opposition are causing concern among Governor Lee’s team.
In fact, in a budget update presented to the committee, Lee’s Finance Commissioner noted that $25 million was being dedicated to fight Hepatitis C in Tennessee prison. Where’d that money come from? It’s the exact amount previously dedicated to year one of Lee’s voucher scheme.
Commissioner McWhorter said the money shift would not impact the voucher scheme in year one, but the move raised questions among advocates and critics alike.
It’s entirely possible the Senate Finance Committee is waiting to see how the House acts on vouchers before taking a controversial vote. It’s also quite possible the votes simply aren’t there for a voucher plan this year.
Tune in next week to see what, if anything, the Senate does with vouchers. Will a weekend of arm-twisting by Bill Lee move a vote or two? Will the House advance the bill and thereby push the Senate to act?
The drama continues …
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