Apr 15, 2024 - Politics

Voucher negotiations continue

Illustration of an unbalanced scale balanced on top of a pencil.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Tennessee lawmakers remain at odds over Gov. Bill Lee's plan to expand school vouchers to allow families statewide the option to use state dollars to pay private school tuition for K-12 students.

Why it matters: The legislative session is winding down, but the House and Senate have advanced very different versions of the plan. If they can't agree on one vision, the expansion will not become law.

State of play: The House's version includes more funding for public schools and teachers' health insurance. The Senate's bill is more stripped down, but would allow participating students to attend any district in the state that had room.

What they're saying: Lee radiated optimism last week, per the Tennessean.

  • "I'm very encouraged and very confident that we are going to move forward with the legislation," he told reporters.

Yes, but: As Tennessee Journal reporter Erik Schelzig noted, "The mood among Republican lawmakers has been less encouraging."

Zoom in: Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the speaker of the Senate, said negotiations are ongoing.

  • "Hopefully we can come to an agreement," he said. "One never knows, but I think there's a possibility."
  • House Majority Leader William Lamberth told reporters it should be clear in about a week if the two sides can come together, according to the Tennessean.

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