Mar 24, 2022 - Politics

Lee's education spending plan advances

Gov. Bill Lee
Gov. Bill Lee. Photo: Henry Taylor/The Leaf-Chronicle/USA Today Network

Gov. Bill Lee's proposed overhaul of the state's education funding plan advanced in a crucial Senate committee Wednesday, increasing the likelihood the legislation passes this session.

Why it matters: Lee's proposal would switch Tennessee to a student-based funding formula that provides extra funds to those learning English, dealing with learning disabilities or facing economic disadvantages.

  • Lee also wants to increase education spending by $750 million annually.
  • Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) was the only Senate education committee member to vote against the plan.

What he's saying: Sen. Jon Lundberg acknowledged prior to the committee vote that he was unsure if the plan, called the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), would be able to pass this session.

  • "I feel satisfied we have done well and put together a real solid plan," Lundberg said, recalling how far TISA has come in the last eight weeks.

Yes, but: Even after advancing Wednesday, Lee's proposal is not without critics. Lawmakers have expressed concerns about the potential tax increases local governments will face in four years in order to meet their increased financial obligation under TISA.

  • And advocates for Metro Nashville Public Schools have criticized a small increase for the district. MNPS director Adrienne Battle pointed out the district will receive less than 2% of the $750 million investment next year despite accounting for 8% of Tennessee's public school students.
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