NASHVILLE - A controversial bill that could slash lottery-funded scholarships in half for some 5,000 students beginning in 2015 is dead for the year.
Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, took the bill off notice today in the House Budget Subcommittee, saying determinations about whether it is ever needed should be a matter determined by the Finance Committee in the House and Senate and not the two respective Education Committees.
Brooks later said he abandoned the bill when it became clear the measure would not pass the GOP-controlled Budget Subcommittee.
Spearheaded by Senate Education Committee Chairman Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, and approved by a Senate task force, the bill originally would have raised eligibility requirements for students wishing to obtain a Hope scholarship. Proponents argued the move was needed because the state was dipping into the program's $300 million-plus reserve.
Faced with news that lottery proceeds were exceeding estimates by $10 million so far this year, Gresham made the cuts conditional on that growth being sustained. But with lottery proceedings later exceeding last year's growth by $22.4 million, Gresham passed the bill on the Senate floor pegging growth to that figure, drawing heated opposition from Democrats.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.