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Mitchell’s Bill To Kill Lee’s Vouchers Dies

WATCH: “Delete the voucher program… it’s ILLEGAL… we’re wasting the courts’ time with something we know is wrong.”

Bo Mitchell’s bill to kill Gov. Lee’s “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” private school vouchers fails for lack of a second.
(Thanks to: Byrd, Moody, Dunn, White, Deberry, Cochran)

ANOTHER “L” FOR LEE: GOV’S #1 PRIORITY (VOUCHERS) DECLARED “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time hopefully you have some context on this, but just in case, here’s a quick rundown of how we got to this point…

Governor Lee made public school-harming private school vouchers his #1 priority coming into office.

Not fixing our public schools, which get an “F” for funding. Not fixing health care, which has us at #1 in Medical bankruptcies & rural hospital closures per capita, which could easily be addressed by expanding medicaid and accepting the $1 BILLION of OUR OWN TAX DOLLARS earmarked for us every year.

Nope. Vouchers.

Lee wants to see MILLIONS of public school funds steered to private (often religious/Christian) schools. To get it passed, he had the help of Trump Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, who is on record saying her agenda is to “Advance God’s Kingdom” by raiding the public school war chest in America, and disgraced former speaker Glen Casada, who held the tie vote open for 35 minutes until he finally coerced Rep. Jason Zachary of Knoxville into flipping his vote and selling out Tennessee’s public schools.

To be clear, NONE of the rural reps wanted vouchers for their own districts. They only wanted to impose them on Nashville and Memphis and their more diverse student bodies… even though many admitted they wouldn’t want that done to their districts.

The rollout was equally problematic. The Tennessee Dept. of Education handed out an expensive no-bid contract for more than the amount that was allocated to the program, and Lee intentionally sped up the rollout an extra year for no apparent reason other than impatience. Many Republican representatives began to regret their votes for the bill, including TN GOP House Caucus leader Jeremy Faison. 

There were also rumors of an FBI investigation, the offering of military promotions, the list goes on… which brings us to last night, when the program was finally declared “unconstitutional” by a court after Shelby & Davidson counties sued.

Another L for Lee.

It isn’t over. There will be challenges. But Lee’s losing streak in the courts continues, a natural extension of a radical right agenda in a GOP supermajority state where the only backstop the constitution has is the judicial branch. Thankfully, for now, it seems to be holding up.

HERE WERE SOME REACTIONS:

 

Of course, not everyone is thrilled. Senator Brian Kelsey makes it clear there will be appeals.

VIDEO: GOV. LEE’S VOUCHER NIGHTMARE (GOP Caucus Leader Faison: “We Robbed Teachers’ Pay”)

Gov. Bill Lee’s public school-harming vouchers barely passed thru “sketchy” “bribes & threats” after disgraced former speaker Glen Casada held the board open for 35 minutes — until Rep. Jason Zachary finally flipped his vote and pushed through a program that will ONLY effect Nashville & Memphis, whose reps voted AGAINST it. (Zachary’s math was way off, but we digress)

Many reps say they were bribed and threatened, even with military promotions.

The FBI supposedly opened an inquiry.

There’s a $4 Million Slush fund that seems to have been used to bribe rural reps for their votes, but nobody wants to talk about it.

Lawsuits have begun.

Now it seems the Tennessee Department of Education “robbed” a teacher bonus program to fund a no-bid $2.5 MILLION Class Wallet contract to implement the program that far exceeds what the allocation was… without the comptroller even reviewing it “for merit.

A mess. The mess is so bad even TN GOP House Caucus chair Jeremy Faison regrets his vote, and Appropriations Committee Chair Matthew Hill wants answers. He voted for the bill also.

Meanwhile Governor Lee blames everyone but himself, as he always does.

Let’s keep in mind, this is not the only way Lee is coming after public schools. A charter school commission has now been formed to overrule local school boards, even in rural communities.

Watch what he does, not what he says.

VIDEO: “WE WANT TO SEE THE LIST.” – Reps. Stewart & Mitchell Confront Mcwhorter

Rep. Bo Mitchell & Rep. Mike Stewart grill Gov. Bill Lee Finance commish Stuart Mcwhorter about a reported 50-60 grant commitments from a $4 MILLION SLUSH FUND TO GET VOUCHERS PASSED.

As Bo reminds McWhorter of a perjury law, Rep. Martin Daniel CUTS OFF his mic.

VIDEO: “CLEARLY A VIOLATION OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION.” – Stewart & Mitchell To Schwinn

Rep. Mike Stewart & Rep. Bo Mitchell confront Gov. Bill Lee Tennessee Department of Education commish Penny Schwinn about a no-bid $2 MILLION ClassWallet contract that exceeds the total💰allocated for his voucher program, echoing controversy from her past.

Here’s more on Class Wallet: http://www.mommabears.org/blog/whos-in-your-wallet

The extra funding came from a Lamar Alexander-era program intended for teacher bonuses. Yes, taking from teachers to pay for the voucher program.

VIDEO: Reps Mitchell & Stewart Call On Rep. Daniel To Investigate $4 MILLION Slush Fund

“It’s The Role Of This Committee To Get to the Bottom Of a $4 MILLION SLUSH FUND” Rep. Mike Stewart and Rep. Bo Mitchell call on Rep. Martin Daniel to investigate mysterious MONEY Gov. Lee may have used to get public school-harming vouchers passed. Even speaker Cameron Sexton calls it “troubling”.

Commish Rolfe Points Finger At Gov. Lee & Mcwhorter For Vouchers Slush Fund

Recently we learned a $4 MILLION line item found its way into the budget, seemingly intended for grant projects in rural communities to grease the skids for Governor Lee’s public school-harming vouchers, which would steer public money to private schools.

The legislation may have been the brainchild of Speaker Glen Casada, who has since stepped down in disgrace, but it clearly also has the fingerprints of Governor Lee and his Finance Dept. chief Stuart Mcwhorter all over it.

There have been reports that 60 specific projects were promised to rural legislators to get their votes for the bill, which barely passed the house, but Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe says he has seen no such list, and points the finger SQUARELY at Lee and Mcwhorter.

WATCH BELOW as Rolfe says “WE DID NOT PROPOSE THAT”, distancing himself from the money at the budget hearing last week. (Rep. Martin Daniel has said there will be no investigation into this. Shocker!)

INTERVIEW: State Senator Raumesh Akbari on Vouchers & Medicaid Expansion

State Senator Raumesh Akbari talks about why Governor Lee’s public school-harming vouchers shouldn’t be rushed, and why Tennessee needs to expand Medicaid.

Listen to the PODCAST HERE.

FULL INTERVIEW:

CLIP: State Sen. Akbari on $1 BILLION In Unspent Aid: “FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD” 

REPORT: Tennessee Gets An “F” In School Funding

This post was first seen on the Tennessee Education Report. For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

That’s the grade Tennessee gets from the Education Law Center’s latest report on school funding in the United States. To be clear, Tennessee earned an F in both funding level and funding effort. We earned a C in distribution of the paltry sum our state dedicates to schools.

Here’s how Education Law Center defines those terms:

  • Funding Level – the cost-adjusted, per-pupil revenue from state and local sources
  • Funding Distribution – the extent to which additional funds are distributed to school districts with high levels of student poverty
  • Funding Effort – the level of investment in K-12 public education as a percentage of state wealth (GDP) allocated to maintain and support the state school system

The report notes that Tennessee is 43rd in the nation in overall funding level and 47th in effort. The effort category is of particular interest because it indicates that Tennessee has significant room for improvement in terms of funding level. That is, there are untapped resources Tennessee is NOT using to fund schools.

Shorter: Funding schools is NOT a key policy priority in Tennessee.

Additional evidence for this can be found in graphics shared by Think Tennessee earlier this year:

Tennessee is (and has been) at or near the bottom in school funding and even in funding effort. That’s not changing. Instead, Governor Lee and his policy acolytes are diverting education dollars to voucher schemes and charter schools.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

CHANNEL 5: What Did Gov. Lee Know About the Vouchers Bribe?

Channel 5’s report on Governor Lee’s possible involvement with disgraced speaker Glen Casada offering a military promotion to Rep. Windle as a bribe for a key vote on his public school-harming vouchers bill. ‬

‪Lee’s office claims to have ZERO texts from the day, won’t share emails either.‬ 🤔