State Rep. Glen Casada, R- Franklin, says he will rewrite a bill that has been seen as potentially blocking distribution of federal funding to pre-kindergarten programs in Nashville and Memphis– and perhaps other funds as well.
Casada removed House Bill 159 from a Local Government Subcommittee hearing Wednesday because he said the bill’s intent has been misunderstood. He plans to bring the proposal back in a number of weeks.
“I will talk with an attorney and present it so it is understood,” he said on Wednesday.
The bill was drafted to address federal pre-kindergarten money, which was recently awarded to Shelby and Metro school districts. Many districts statewide felt slighted when Gov. Bill Haslam applied for $70 million in federal money for pre-K programs.
Casada’s fear is that because of a perceived slight, a local government could sue for federal money and a judge could mandate the money be given to all. A lawsuit could then require the state to expand a federal program, Casada said, which he sees as a costly endeavor for Tennessee.
The bill says a lawsuit over the federal money will stop the flow of that money. A local government then couldn’t resubmit the application on behalf of all local governments.
But the legislation could also have potentially sweeping affects on federal grant money for local governments, not just pre-K dollars. Casada said that was never the intent.
“Many are under the impression this affects routine grant money,” he said.
The bill has drawn fire from those running pre-K programs, with Metro Schools speaking out against the bill on Tuesday. Metro Schools will see $33 million from the grant.