KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – State legislators on Friday voted to expand the controversial school voucher program into Hamilton County but removed an amendment that would have added Knox County to the short list of eligible areas.
The Tennessee House on Wednesday had approved a bill amendment that would have expanded the state’s school voucher program allowing public tax dollars to be given to families under income-level restrictions to pay for private schooling in both Hamilton and Knox counties.
Senators approved an expansion to Hamilton County in February. Online records show that the Senate refused to concur with that House amendment for both counties on Thursday and the amendment was withdrawn on Friday before being approved by the House.
Republican lawmakers in 2019 approved the program which provides around $8,000 in public tax dollars to eligible families in areas of Shelby and Davidson counties with the lowest performing schools to help cover private school tuition and other approved expenses.
The initiative was the subject of lawsuits from Nashville, Memphis and civil rights leaders. The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the program last year.