Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey blames GOP colleague for voucher bill failure

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey blames GOP colleague for voucher bill failure

April 4th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Ron Ramsey

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey today blamed the failure of Gov. Bill Haslam's school voucher bill on a fellow senator he says was "bound and determined" to expand the measure over the governor's objections.

"Honestly, I disagree with that," Ramsey, R-Blountville, said of amendments attempted by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown.

"I think something's better than nothing. Sometimes, the search of perfection stands in the way of good. At least we should have had good and moved forward some," Ramsey said.

Haslam pulled his voucher proposal Wednesday, saying he would not let Kelsey and fellow Republicans on the Senate Education Committee amend it.

Kelsey has said he has a backup to the governor's bill, but Ramsey told reporters it won't pass.

"This is too big an issue to fight about on the Senate floor," Ramsey said.

Haslam's bill would have created a limited voucher program that would allow children in the state's 83 lowest-performing public schools to use tax dollars to pay private school tuition.

Kelsey and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, wanted to set income eligibility limits significantly higher than Haslam called for, to about $75,000, and to allow students attending any public school to qualify.