NASHVILLE _ Efforts by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, to table a budget amendment restoring funding for Taft Youth Development Center failed this afternoon, creating confusion and prompting a House recess where GOP leaders were expected to put pressure on members.
Later House members returned and began debate on the amendment.
McCormick's tabling motion of Rep. Cameron Sexton's amendment failed on a 44-53 vote. Most Democrats voted against the tabling motion and enough Republicans joined with Sexton, R-Crossville, to make it stick.
Sexton argued the closing of Taft, which Republican Gov. Bill Hasalm is seeking, is short sighted. The Pikeville-area facility houses some of the toughest young male offenders in the the Department of Children's Services system, he said, and has been successful rehabilitating many of them.
He pointed to a recent assault at another DCS facility in which a teacher was attacked with a shovel, cutting the staffers hand to the bond, splitting his skull and eye socket and breaking his jaw.
"Those kids who did that attack, they can no longer go to Taft," Sexton said, noting, "there is no other place to send those kids."