Opponents still hope to stop Governor’s ESA voucher bill

Tennessee
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With two different versions of the education savings account (ESA) or voucher bill passing the House and Senate, opponents think they can still stop it even as it heads to a conference committee of both chambers. 

The school boards for both Shelby County and Metro Nashville sent out emails Monday as a reminder of resolutions they passed opposing Governor Bill Lee’s ESAs or vouchers. 

“I see how the schools are. They are underfunded,” said one member of a loose coalition of teachers, staffers, and activists who protested outside the legislative office buildings before trying to meet with various lawmakers. 

A Knox County teacher had a new nickname for Rep. Jason Zachary. 

” ‘Jason Floppary’ ” said 7th-grade science teacher Dave Gorman.  “He’s earned that. He voted ‘no’ for vouchers, then was pressured by the speaker.” 

Rep Zachary says he became a ‘yes’ with a promise that Knox County would eventually not be in the bill, but his vote was the deciding one in the House last week. 

The Senate vote was not as close, but many differences remain between the two versions of the landmark ESA bill. 

Only the state’s biggest counties–Shelby and Davidson counties– are in the Senate bill while Knox and Hamilton counties join them in the House version. 

The House bill also allows education grants for the state’s 91-other counties who are not in those large urban areas. 

The Senate bill makes no such provisions. 

The two chambers could have a conference committee as early as tomorrow to resolve differences. 

It comes after the House late Monday formally “refused to conform” with the Senate ESA version passed last Thursday. 

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