Put the Money Back

House Democrats are calling on Gov. Bill Lee to return the money for his now stalled voucher program, saying it should be invested in teacher compensation as originally planned.

Here’s more from a press release:

The TN House Democratic Caucus says the more than $38 million dollars in state funds that Governor Bill Lee earmarked in the 2020 budget for his controversial voucher program should be immediately reallocated. The Caucus also encourages the Governor not to appeal the Chancery Court’s ruling. On Thursday, the Davidson County trial court ruled that the Lee administration cannot continue processing applications for the program. The state wanted to continue to prepare to launch the program this upcoming school year while appealing the court’s initial ruling against the State, which found the voucher program unconstitutional because it only targets Nashville and Memphis, the state’s two largest cities.

Democratic lawmakers say it’s fiscally irresponsible to set aside millions for an unconstitutional program and continue with a losing lawsuit amid a severe economic crisis. As the state forecasts an estimated $514 million dollar shortfall in the current budget year and $1.5 billion in next year’s budget, Democrats believe the vital funds should be redirected to fill the funding gap in our public school’s budget. Caucus members say the State has demonstrated a pattern of irresponsibility when using taxpayer dollars to fund bad decisions in education like the almost $1 billion dollars used to fund the failed ASD experiment and the botched launch of the TN Ready proficiency testing system.

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