Governor on ESA school vouchers: “most important is we get it done right”

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Republican Governor Bill Lee remains “hopeful” and “excited” that his signature education savings account (ESA) or voucher plan is up and running next year, but he maintains “most important is we get it done right. “

The controversial ESA voucher plan narrowly passed the House earlier this year before passing the Senate by a slightly wider margin.

“We hope to have that program up by next fall,” reiterated the governor after a ceremony at a Nashville charter school last week.

The ESA or voucher plan will be limited to students of predominantly lower-performing public schools in Nashville and Memphis.

It is designed to give kids around 73-hundred dollars in state dollars yearly for what likely will be tuition to a private school, but the governor said there are no plans to expand for now.

“At this point, we have no plans to change that bill, we just want to get it started and get kids to access to those choices for education,” added the governor.

But there are already plans to change the bill from opponents like Nashville Democrat Representative Bo Mitchell.

He wants it repealed entirely.

“And we go back to putting public dollars into public education,” said Mitchell last month as he announced his plans.

New House Republican Speaker Cameron Sexton who voted against the ESA voucher plan  has promised a fair hearing of the bill, but while the governor aims to get the
plan up and running the next school, he offered these somewhat cautionary words.

“What is most important is that we get it done right and we feel like on-time and right are going to happen next year and we are hopeful for that and excited about that.” added the governor.

The ESA voucher plan is officially called a pilot program.

Five-thousand students are eligible for the first year of operation.

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