Haslam Draws Line in Voucher Bill Sands

Gov. Bill Haslam is prepared to withdraw his limited school voucher proposal from the Legislature if Senate Republicans carry out current plans to expand it, its sponsor says.
From Andy Sher’s report:
“It won’t be expanded, because I’ll withdraw it,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville.
Norris said this isn’t a case of brinkmanship on Haslam’s part. He said he has sponsored “hundreds of bills” for the governor “and he always works with the General Assembly.”
But Norris said that Haslam “filed exactly what he thought was appropriate” in light of “all the other education reforms” he has implemented since taking office in 2011.
Last week, Haslam reminded reporters his plan came out of a yearlong task force headed by his education commissioner, Kevin Huffman.
“It’s not like we’re people who say it’s just our way or the highway, the Legislature shouldn’t have input,” Haslam said. He noted he has agreed to lawmakers’ proposed changes in areas such as limiting lawsuit damage awards.
“On this issue we really have worked hard to say this is where we really think the right place is,” Haslam said. “We think if somebody thinks something different, they should run their own bill.”
…Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, favors a broader bill.
But noting Haslam’s concerns, he told reporters last week, “I’m letting the committee system play out on that. Whatever happens, happens.”
He said Haslam’s bill is included in the proposed budget.
“So if you’re going to put an amendment on, it probably needs to be on the governor’s bill,” he said.
He acknowledged the possibility that Haslam could yank his bill.
“I could vote for either bill when it comes to the floor,” Ramsey said. “Obviously my preference is a more expansive one. But it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. I’d like to pass something.”

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